Obama campaign officials insisted to reporters on Thursday that Paul Ryan was already a flop with the voters, claiming that early polling on Mitt Romney’s running mate was historically weak.
“Paul Ryan falls near the bottom of the pack over the past 25 years,” Obama pollster Joel Benenson said in a press call Thursday.
He noted that only 48 percent of voters polled by Gallup described him as “qualified” to be president, besting only Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin among recent picks.
Gallup described its findings in similar terms, saying Ryan’s unusually high negatives are “among the least positive reactions to a vice presidential choice” that it had recorded.
But other polling has shown at least a small bump to Romney’s numbers after he picked Ryan. A survey of swing-state voters by Purple Strategies, for example, suggested Romney’s image improved somewhat after rolling out his running mate. Polling blogger Nate Silver pegged Romney’s overall gain across a variety of surveys at about 1 percent nationally since he picked Ryan.
The Obama campaign claimed that Ryan’s roll-out was being dragged down by coverage of his proposals to privatize Medicare and his leadership position in the extremely unpopular Republican Congress.
“They’re kind of playing on our turf right now,” Benenson said. “We think this choice is very good for us.”
Despite the campaign officials’ chest-thumping on Medicare, they have yet to release any new TV ads on the issue. Romney is already on the offensive in Florida with commercials accusing Obama of cutting $716 billion from Medicare, even though his new running mate has supported the same savings in the past.
Obama press secretary Ben Labolt suggested Romney wouldn’t be alone on the air with Medicare-themed ads for long. “Stay tuned,” he told TPM.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.