An approval rating of 50% is not bad for a relatively unknown congressman. Where he goes from here will depend on the race to define him. The Democrats and Obama have an easier time of it, as they have shown themselves more than willing to play fast and loose with the truth in tarring Ryan as a heartless monster willing to push granny over a cliff. In the meantime, Ryan has an opportunity to define himself as he travels across the Midwest explaining his plan to reform entitlements and cut the budget.
The Ryan choice appears to have aided Romney as well, as Rasmussen explains:
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s favorables are up after the first blush of national media exposure following Mitt Romney’s selection of him as his vice presidential running mate. But as is generally the case with running mates, Ryan gives only a slight boost to Romney.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters now have a favorable opinion of Ryan, while 32% view him unfavorably. This includes 29% with a Very Favorable view of Romney’s vice presidential pick and 13% with a Very Unfavorable one. Only 13% are now unfamiliar with Ryan, and five percent (5%) are not sure about him. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Just prior to being picked as Romney’s running mate, only 39% viewed Ryan favorably, while 25% held an unfavorable opinion of him.
Forty-three percent (43%) of voters think Romney made the right choice when he chose Ryan to be his running mate. Twenty-two percent (22%) disagree and think it was a bad choice. A sizable 35% aren’t sure.
But 36% now say they are more likely to vote for Romney with Ryan as his running mate. Twenty-nine percent (29%) say they are less likely to vote for the Republican, while just as many (30%) say the vice presidential selection has no impact on their vote.
In the key swing state of Ohio, the initial reaction to Ryan is also modestly positive.
Ryan’s numbers are in line with findings in the early going for the vice presidential candidates in 2008. Voters were slightly more critical of Republican John McCain’s choice of then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. But Palin’s favorables were a bit higher than Ryan’s, and a comparable number of voters said her selection made them more likely to vote for McCain.
Ryans numbers are also slightly better than those for Vice President Biden after Obama chose him. And independents’ views of Ryan are in line with the rest of the country; 50% favorable and 38% more likely to vote for Romney.
At this point, it is clear that Romney didn’t hurt himself by choosing Ryan and helped himself slightly. That conclusion might change going forward, but for the moment, Romney doesn’t lose any ground for making his bold choice.