Paul Ryan Is A Drag, And Other Things We Learned From The New WaPo/ABC Poll

by evanmcmurry

There’s a pile of stuff to work through in the new WaPo/ABC News poll, but the most interesting is about Paul Ryan, if nothing than because we’ve been over the rest before. Follow me here:

  • Ryan’s numbers are net positive, with 50-31 percent in approving of his choice. Seems like a nice figure, except that Republican VP’s Greatest Hits have all polled at 60% approval at this point. That’s right—both Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney had higher numbers than Ryan four and twelve years ago. Even Joe Lieberman garnered a 60% approval rating twelve years ago, which shows how lulled the Democratic Party was in 2000. Meanwhile, in terms of whether Galt For Halloween makes voters more or less likely to vote for the presidential candidate, respondents split evenly, 14-14, with 70% saying Ryan makes no difference. That’s at least ten points lower than both Biden and Palin got four years ago. Relative to previous elections—i.e., taking away how he factors into the specifics of this race—Paul Ryan is a weak choice for VP.
  • When described in the abstract, respondents favor Paul Ryan’s budget plan 46-44. When the voucherization of Medicare is described with specifics, that number drops to 30-64%, with only 11% strongly supporting the plan. Assuming that anybody who would be scared by Obamacare is already a Romney voter—which is not a certainty, but a likelihood—and the Dems have way more to gain from going after Ryan on Medicare than the GOP has bashing Obama over Medicare.

Take these factors together, and Ryan seems like nothing but a liability to me. All that could change if he gives some amazing convention speech, of course. (Still, eight percent of respondents found Ryan too liberal. Can’t win for losing with this crowd.)

More of note:

  • On the breakdowns of who handles what better, Romney bests Obama on the economy and the deficit, and Obama beats Romney on almost everything else. But more interesting is the change in all these numbers—Romney is down by three points on nearly every single issue, including the economy, from the last time the poll was taken. Romney beats Obama on the economy 46-44, but it was 49-44 seven weeks ago; he lost three points on handling small businesses, while Obama gained two. Those are not good signs for a candidate whose entire campaign is predicated on an economic argument. Combine this with Romney’s atrocious likability rating—only 27% like Romney—and you have an unlikable candidate who’s losing his only strength.
  • Romney is down on almost every other metric—down four points on the deficit, three on health care, four on abortion and gay marriage*, and TEN** on energy. The uniformity of the drop suggests that it might have more to do with the sample than a change of opinion, but still, Romney is, at the very least, making no headway against Obama on any issue.
  • Romney is beating Obama on who would handle the economy by a statistically-negligent two points, but he loses, by a lot, on economic breakdown questions. Who better understands the economic problems people are having? Obama, 49-37. Whose policies favor the middle class? Obama, 2-1. Romney presents himself with an aura of competence, so I can see why people side with him overall on the economy; but like his running mate, his image breaks down under the slightest scrutiny.
  • Romney beats Obama by five points on handling taxes. This may have been heard more as a competence question than an ideological one. If you asked me in a bar, “Who’s better at handling taxes, Romney or Obama?” I’d say, “Mitten, of course! He’s so good he won’t even release them for fear of bragging.”
  • Most important, to me: respondents still blame Bush for the economy. This explains a lot of why Obama is still doing so well, despite the high unemployment rate, slow recovery, etc. For all that we hear about the short memories of the general populace, Romney & Co. have failed to make this Obama’s economy. Since Romney doesn’t offer anything else, they haven’t given voters who don’t blame Obama for the economy enough of a reason to drop him.

* I still don’t understand why abortion and gay marriage are both grouped together under the same category.

** This seems to deserve more comment than my paltry understanding of energy policy can give it. A ten point shift is massive, especially given that nothing of note has happened in terms of energy or the environment. What happened?