Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wipes away tears as he and Mitt Romney greet supporters… (Darren Hauck / Getty Images )
Mitt Romney picking Paul D. Ryan as his running mate may have sparked new interest in his campaign and invigorated the Republican base, but more Americans than not have a less-than-stellar opinion of the Wisconsin congressman.
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.”
The only vice presidential nominee who has polled worse following an introduction to the public is Dan Quayle, who in 1988 was seen as “fair” or “poor” by 52% of Americans.
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Seventeen percent of adults say that Ryan’s candidacy makes them more likely to vote for Romney, slightly less than 18% of Americans who said the same for John McCain following Sarah Palin’s vice presidential nomination in 2008. Thirty-six percent of Republicans polled are more likely to vote for Romney following the Ryan unveiling though, 6 points greater than the Palin boost for McCain in 2008.
Americans are more confident about Ryan’s presidential qualifications, with 48% viewing him as capable of moving into the White House should Romney be unable to serve. Twenty-nine percent think Ryan isn’t qualified. But still, those marks put Ryan only above Quayle and Palin.
A Romney campaign pollster chalked the poll’s results up to Ryan’s relative obscurity on the national stage.
“All these numbers indicate is the simple fact that Congressman Paul Ryan was not a nationally known figure prior to being named as Gov. Romney's vice-presidential pick,” Neil Newhouse said in a statement.
A number of polls conducted over the summer back up Newhouse’s assertion, with CNN most recently finding that 54% don’t know enough about Ryan to have an opinion about him.
That obscurity will soon end though, as Romney continues to tout Ryan on the campaign trail to large crowds of supporters, and as President Obama’s campaign looks to define Ryan by his controversial budget proposals in the House.
The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted Sunday among 1,006 adults with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points.