It seemed like a good idea at the time: when Mitt Romney tapped Paul Ryan as his running mate four years ago, the Wisconsin congressman was a bright comer, a policy wonk with an easy way about him. Then, in his sole debate with a grinning, gibbering Joe Biden, Ryan allowed the veep to slap him all over the stage, with nary a punch thrown. His terrible performance in the debate may not have cost the charmless vulture capitalist the election, but it sure didn’t help,
Today, more or less by default, Ryan finds himself speaker of the House, but his performance there has left many in the GOP scratching their heads:
Nearly half of Republican voters disapprove of Paul Ryan’s performance as House speaker, according to a new poll released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling. Only 40 percent of GOP voters are happy with Ryan’s stint as speaker so far, while 44 percent disapprove. Those numbers worsen among all voters, with just 30 percent approval and 48 percent disapproval.
Many establishment Republicans have looked to Ryan unify the party, and speculation has grown as to whether he would mount his own last-ditch candidacy to attempt to block presumptive nominee Donald Trump.
The new poll indicates that concern about Trump’s effect on the party may be justified. Forty-five percent of voters said they would be less likely to vote for a Senate candidate who supports Trump, while just 26 percent say the opposite. Candidates who back the presumptive GOP nominee receive a -23 point net favorability rating from independent voters.
Essentially, what the GOP did was replace one colorless midwestern Republican with another, slightly fresher version. Which may be the Grand Old Party’s problem: there are very few Republicans with coastal moxie, the kind that naturally appeal to a younger, hipper electorate; instead, they all appear to be manufactured at a factory in Steubenville, Ohio, for use in the local Rotary Club. The party of Taft, indeed.