Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2016: Paul Ryan More Unpopular than Sarah Palin, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman Were At This Point

2004 Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards (D) (left) actually had a much better net favorability rating at this point in time following the 2004 election than either 2012 nominee Paul Ryan (R), or 2008 nominee Sarah Palin (R).
GOP budget-guy, numbers-hunk, and one-time promising candidate for President in 2012 and 2016 got smacked with some upsetting "numbers" himself this week when Rasmussen Reports released their latest national survey on likely voter impressions of the would-be Vice President: 

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Paul Ryan? (nat'l survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted March 14-15, 2013)
Favorable:    35%   (-8)*
Unfavorable:   54%   (+8)
*Number in parentheses represent the percent-change in Ryan's favorable/unfavorable rating among likely voters nationwide since Rasmussen's previous poll on the race in January.

Only a little more than 1 in 3 likely voters view the young Wisconsin Congressman favorably, while a solid majority see him unfavorably. To be blunt, those are really awful numbers. We're talking Nancy Pelosi, Sarah Palin type numbers. But they're even worse in the context of where he once stood on Rasmussen Reports, as recently as just two and seven months ago:

Over the course of just two months, views of Paul Ryan have gone from being split evenly among the electorate, to tilting overwhelmingly unfavorable...at least, according to Rasmussen Reports. Where did his massive 16 point negative downturn since January come from? Ryan fell across the board, but most notably among Republicans. In fact, his drop among Republicans is so stark that you almost have to chalk it up to statistical error. For example, a whopping 40% of his own party views him unfavorably, with just 52% seeing him favorably. Compare that to his January Rasmussen rating, when his fav/unfav rating was a staggeringly high 76/14% among Republicans.

Even outside of Rasmussen Reports, you can detect a distinct downward trajectory since the election last November in Paul Ryan's favorability ratings. Perhaps his 'front-and-center' role in the nation's budget debate is to blame. Or perhaps it's due to the Democratic-created notion that Paul Ryan wants to end Medicare as we know it. Or perhaps it's simply his association with a failed presidential campaign. Either way, his post election favorability ratings have been worse than each of the 3 preceeding Vice Presidential losers before him, at a similar point in time following their election loss; the 3 VP nominees being Sarah Palin (R), John Edwards (D), and Joe Lieberman (D). The chart below averages the findings of every favorability survey on the four former VP nominees, from the time of their selection, until present day (or the equivalent thereof in 2009, 2005, and 2001). The full list of each nominee's favorable/unfavorable ratings can be found here, and was compiled from Pollster, TPM Poll tracker, Poll Report, and National Journal.

While all four of the most recent failed Vice Presidential candidates maintained overall positive favorability ratings from the time of their selection to this point in their post-VP run, Paul Ryan's rating remains the lowest, at just 41/40%. Consider the fact that both Joe Lieberman AND John Edwards (pre-love-child scandal, of course) maintained personal favorable ratings of +20 or more (44/15% and 46/26%, respectively). In short, Joe Lieberman was the most popular VP nominee of the last 4 elections, while Paul Ryan is the least (based on favorability ratings from the time of their selection to this point in their post-VP runs).

Another interesting finding was how much better the failed Democratic VP's weathered the test of time than their Republican counterparts. While both Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin saw their post-election favorability ratings turn southward, John Edwards and Joe Lieberman remained quite popular. Sarah Palin saw the largest NET drop in her pre vs. post-election favorability ratings, clocking in at an average 45/36% from her selection until election day November 4, but dropping to 44/45% from election day through March 2009 (a net 10 point drop). John Edwards saw the least amount of change from his pre-vs.post-election favorability rating (he was at +20% in both; which makes me note how hard it is to remember the times when John Edwards wasn't universally despised). 
Mondale (left) & Carter in '80. Corbis

All of this may sound like pretty terrible news for a potential 2016 Paul Ryan presidential run. But if the last 3 losing VP nominees are any indication, Ryan's favorability rating is irrelevant: he's already dead on arrival. All four of the most recent Vice Presidential losers had presidential ambitions at some point, with Edwards and Lieberman both opting to run for their party's nomination immediately following their failed VP races. And where did that get them? For Joe Lieberman, it got him about 2% of the 2004 Democratic primary popular vote; thoroughly unimpressive considering he was 1/2 of the ticket that WON the national popular vote in the 2000 presidential election. John Edwards was also perilously close to the Vice Presidency in 2004, though only managed 3% of the 2008 Democratic primary popular vote; a mere afterthought in the Clinton-Obama battle royale. And Sarah Palin, while opting not to seek the Republican nomination in 2012, now ranks as one of the least popular political figures in the United States. Remember this: the last time a losing Vice Presidential candidate went on to capture his party's nomination in the following presidential cycle was 1984, with Walter Mondale (D). But even then, Mondale was a sitting Vice President when Carter/Mondale lost to Reagan/Bush in 1980. Ryan, Palin, Edwards, and Lieberman were all newcomers to the national scene in their losing bids.

 Based on recent history, Paul Ryan is unlikely to become the GOP nominee in 2016 regardless of favorability ratings. I just have to wonder if he's been made aware of the stats.

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