|Rep. Paul Ryan is the most popular of all 2016 Republican Presidential candidates in terms of favorability, but lags in horse-race polling.|
Congressman Paul Ryan, the young, wonky, slightly-awkward Wisconsin Congressman and most recent Republican Vice Presidential nominee has had his ups and downs since the start of the 2012 Presidential cycle. After what were surely flattering entreaties from his party to enter the race for the White House that year, he was picked from a large and impressive line-up of Republican politicians as one-half of the Presidential ticket with Mitt Romney.
Despite a close race, the Romney-Ryan ticket lost to Obama-Biden by a disappointing 51-47%. Both men appeared shell-shocked.
The undeniable disappointment on behalf of Republican voters and punditry at the result took a slight toll on the House Budget Committee Chairman's personal popularity. He saw a net positive favorability rating pre-2012 election turn negative afterwards.
In the 13 national surveys of Ryan's favorability since November 2012, only four of them found him with a higher favorable than unfavorable percentage. Since November 2012, he averages a 39% favorable rating, and a 41% unfavorable rating.
But while Ryan may need a little rehabilitation on his image with general election voters before running for President (which he has not ruled out), he's as beloved as ever by Republican primary voters, as a recent Pew Research poll made clear:
According to Pew, 2/3 of Republicans and Republican leaners view Ryan favorably, putting him in a very comfortable position when compared to other likely 2016 GOP contenders (Rand Paul is viewed favorably by just over half of Republicans, Marco Rubio by half, and Chris Christie by 47%).
Fortunately for Ryan, the Pew finding showing him the most popular 2016 GOPer is replicated in ALL TEN post-2012 election surveys of Republicans and/or GOP primary voters. In every single survey, Ryan's favorability score exceeds all other Republicans.
The data in the table below shows the average favorability rating of every potential major 2016 GOP primary candidate since the 2012 election:
|All surveys used in the averages can be found here.|
For whatever reason (which must at least partially include name recognition), Ryan leads a pretty impressive list of potential candidates in terms of favorability, while the nationally popular Chris Christie ranks 2nd to LAST, behind the uber-socially conservative Rick Santorum, and the humiliated Rick Perry.
That's why some might be surprised to learn that despite all the love from his party, Ryan's not performing all that well in the early 2016 primary horse-race. In fact, in an average of all primary surveys since the presidential election, Ryan finishes third, behind Marco Rubio and Chris Christie:
|YouGov conducts weekly surveys on the 2016 GOP nomination. For the purposes of this table, their results are compiled into monthly averages.|
The man who is liked by 3/4 of Republicans has yet to lead the field in a single 2016 primary survey.
The man who is viewed 25 points MORE favorably than Chris Christie actually trails the NJ Governor in 7 of 12 surveys.
Ryan even fails to finish higher than fourth place in 4 of 12 surveys, and comes in fifth place in 2.
By comparison, Sarah Palin led the 2012 GOP primary field in multiple surveys in 2009. John Edwards never lead the Democratic field nationally in 2005, though that was courtesy of Hillary Clinton. Heck, even Joe Lieberman finished first in 2004 Democratic primary polling, multiple times, and as late as 2003!
Not to sound like a broken record, but obviously, it's early. And Paul Ryan may not even choose to run for the presidency (Edwards and Lieberman are the only failed VP nominees to run for President since 1984). Rumor mills actually suggest he's more interested in the House Appropriations committee, or perhaps the speakership.
But for whatever reason, as of now, Ryan's deep popularity with the Republican base is not translating to a desire to nominate him as their 2016 nominee. Maybe that's something that a bit of good ole fashion barn storming could change, maybe not. Though who would you rather be: Chris Christie, who has a very statistically insignificant average lead over Ryan in primary horse-race polling? Or Paul Ryan, whose average net favorability among Republicans is 39 points higher than Christie's?