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First poll on Rep. Paul Ryan doesn't mean that much, or does it?

August 13, 2012|By James Rainey

The public’s reaction to Paul D. Ryan as a vice presidential candidate appears less than positive, according to one survey, but many will debate the meaning of such instant sampling, including your Politics Now reporting team.

The Gallup survey is just one of the subjects covered (and argued about) in today’s online discussion between L.A. Times political writers Robin Abcarian, Maeve Reston and Jim Rainey. To listen to the discussion, click the video or "More" below.

A new USA Today/Gallup Poll found that 42% see Ryan as a “fair” or “poor” choice, compared with 39% who rate him as “pretty good” or “excellent.” We discussed whether voters know enough about the Wisconsin congressman to make those numbers meaningful.

PHOTOS: Paul Ryan's past

We also explained how the Ryan choice focuses the Republican campaign on base voters, more than undecideds in the middle. President George W. Bush employed such a “base” strategy when he defeated Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in his 2004 reelection campaign.

Reston explained how Ryan’s Medicare plan may change the status quo. Though existing retirees and those 55 and over would remain eligible for the current federal health insurance system, those who are younger could end up, when they retire, on a voucher system whose level of government subsidy remains unclear.

Ryan has been making a good impression on Republicans and other voters in his initial appearances in Iowa. He handled with relative aplomb a few hecklers who challenged him on the Medicare issue in his appearance at the Iowa State Fair.

When the jibes continued to fly during the Des Moines appearance, Ryan retorted: “It’s funny, because Iowans and Wisconsinites, we like to be respectful of one another, peaceful with one other. These ladies must not be from Iowa or Wisconsin.” That drew considerable approval from the crowd.

The Politics Now discussion delved into some of Ryan’s personal biography — including his attraction to hunting with bow and arrow, and membership in his hometown club, the Janesville Bowmen, and his fanatical exercise regimen.

We also discussed the fictional TV character with hair most like Ryan's and the unwelcome designation he received from the editors of his high school yearbook — prompting memories of another onetime television character.

Politics Now will convene regularly to hang out and discuss the pertinent political matters of the day.

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