Paul Ryan: The new Dan Quayle?

He's the least popular Republican pick for V.P. since 1988, and some in the GOP are distancing themselves already

Topics: Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, 2012 Elections, Medicare,

Paul Ryan: The new Dan Quayle?Paul Ryan (Credit: AP/LM Otero)

It’s been only three days, but there are already some signs that Mitt Romney’s pick of Rep. Paul Ryan for the vice presidential slot may give some GOP strategists heartburn. The first poll taken since the announcement, from USA Today and Gallup, shows that Ryan is, at the moment, the least popular number-two pick since 1988’s Dan Quayle.

Forty-two percent of Americans view Ryan as a “fair” or “poor” choice, while just 39 percent think he is an “excellent” or “pretty good” pick. The Romney campaign says this is just because Ryan is not very well known yet, but Sarah Palin had worse name recognition in 2008 than Ryan. About 50 percent of Americans knew Ryan before Romney picked him, while a “substantial majority” didn’t know Palin, according to a Gallup poll from the time. Nonetheless, Palin elicited a more positive reaction than Ryan, with a net positive rating of close to 10 percent, compared to Ryan’s net negative of 3 percent. Ryan does beat both Palin and Quayle when respondents were asked if the candidate is qualified to take over as president, should something happen to the president, but those are the only vice presidential nominees he beat out of the recent pool. Palin also helped raise almost twice as much money as Ryan in the first weekend after their selections, though she had an extra half day to do it, as her announcement came Friday afternoon and Ryan’s came Saturday morning.

But the biggest impact may be down ballot, where Republicans are starting to realize that the party’s embrace of Ryan and, thus, his Medicare-altering budget may drag down House and Senate candidates. In the days since the Ryan pick, some GOP candidates have already tried to distance themselves from Ryan’s plan. “Linda McMahon will never support a budget that cuts Medicare,” said a spokesperson for the Connecticut Republican Senate candidate when asked about the Ryan budget, for example. But going forward, candidates in moderate states and districts will be faced with a difficult choice: run away from the Ryan plan and thus their presidential candidate, create uncomfortable intraparty tension (especially when Romney visits their state) or embrace Ryan and Romney and take the political hit.



Bill Burton of Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC backing President Obama, is gleeful about the possibility of tying House and Senate candidates to Ryan’s budget. In a memo sent to reporters today, Burton said their survey data has shown the budget was so toxic that they had trouble convincing voters that Romney and other candidates really support it. “By choosing Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney actually helped to solve one of the key strategic challenges we had in helping voters to understand that,” Burton wrote.

Republicans are apparently worried enough about this that they’ve already started “scrambling to inoculate their House and Senate candidates and provide some guidelines on how to respond effectively to the expected onslaught,” Politico’s Charles Mahtesian reports. A video presentation from the RNC’s political director, one of many presentations and strategy memos on Medicare circulating in GOP circles at the moment, suggests victory is “fighting Medicare to a tie.” He says, “Our entire mission was to fight this to a draw,” not a win.

Meanwhile, Ryan got heckled on Medicare at his first solo event today in Iowa.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>