Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan — the freshly minted Republican vice presidential candidate — got an immediate ratings boost in the wake of his selection as Mitt Romney’s running-mate, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Little known nationally before Saturday’s announcement, favorable impressions of Ryan jumped 15 percentage points among the overall electorate with positive views soaring from 49 to 70 percent among conservative Republicans. In Wednesday through Friday interviews, fully 45 percent of Americans expressed no opinion of Ryan, dropping to 30 percent on Saturday and Sunday. The increasing familiarity all went to the positive side of the ledger, giving Ryan an initial advantage in the sprint to define his candidacy.
Overall, in interviews after his selection, 38 percent of all Americans express favorable views of Ryan, 33 percent negative ones. (Before the the announcement, Ryan was somewhat underwater, scoring 23 percent favorable, 32 unfavorable.) The most recent national numbers on Vice President Joe Biden are from a July Pew Research Center poll showing a split decision, 40 percent favorable, 37 percent unfavorable. One of the largest movements on Ryan’s favorability numbers was the 21-point jump among conservative Republicans, but the initial movement was positive among independents as well, doubling from 19 to 39 percent. The shift among Democrats was similar in both a positive (up 10 percentage points on favorability) and negative direction (up eight on unfavorability). Before the announcement, senior citizens split 28 percent apiece positively and negatively on Ryan, but afterward his favorable number shot to 46 percent with no change on the other side of the equation.
Here's the Post's graphic on these numbers:
Prior to his selection, Ryan's favorability rating among senior citizens was evenly split at 28/28. It has now jumped to 46 percent favorable, 28 percent unfavorable. This explains why Democrats are desperately rushing to distort Ryan's plan in a bid to strike fear into the hearts of elderly voters. Robert Gibbs appeared on MSNBC this morning and uncorked a whopper that anchor Chuck Todd didn't let slip by:
"You're going to hand out vouchers to seniors, some of whom have just retired or just turning 65 -- and then you're going to hand one to my father who is 83, who's a lung cancer survivor..."
Totally false. As Todd points out, the Republican plan proposes no changes at all for anyone over the age of 55. Gibbs' father would continue to enjoy the exact same plan he's come to rely on. Come to think of it, so would someone two decades younger than Gibbs' dad. Undeterred by this slap-down, Gibbs marches on, repeating the tired "Ryan ends Medicare as we know it" line. Fact: Medicare as we know it will be insolvent in 12 years, according to the program's own accountants. The Republican plan protects Medicare for current and soon-to-be seniors, while employing a bipartisan solution to save it for younger Americans. The Democrats have already cut hundreds of billions from the program, they've established a new government rationing board to cut more costs, and they have no other reform plans whatsoever. Obama's non-plan doesn't merely end Medicare "as we know it." The math says that it actually ends Medicare, period.