Independents and Undecided Voters on Paul Ryan: More Unfavorable than Favorable, but Most Unsure

by John Sides on August 11, 2012 · 9 comments

in Campaigns and elections

(This post is co-authored with Lynn Vavreck, featuring data from our forthcoming book.)

With Mitt Romney having picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, we can shed some light on these questions: What do people know about Ryan?  And what do they think of him?

A series of polls done by YouGov for the Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project suggests that most people have never heard of Paul Ryan before today.  In several polls since April 28, YouGov has asked a representative sample of 1,000 people if they have heard of Ryan and to rate him in terms of favorability.  This gives us a large sample on which to base this analysis.

Over the last several months, roughly 43% of Americans report that they have never heard of Paul Ryan.  In mid-July, 52% could not even make a guess as to whether Ryan was a member of the House, the Senate, was Secretary of State, or was a Governor (32% got it right).  Republicans are more likely to know that Ryan was a member of the House — 42% of Republicans knew this, compared to 29% of Democrats and 34% of independents.

And what do the people who know Ryan think of him?  In these surveys, about 28% reported having a favorable view and 29% reported having a unfavorable view.  Those who had strongly unfavorable views outnumbered those with strongly favorable views — suggesting that unfavorable opinions are more intensely held at this point in time.  These ratings are affected by party, of course: on average about 54% of Republicans have a favorable impression of Ryan compared to only 10% of Democrats.

What about independents and undecided voters? Their opinions tend to be unfavorable.  About 26% of independents have an unfavorable impression of Ryan, while 21% of independents have a favorable impression.  A majority (52%) of independents did not have any impression of Ryan.

Among undecided voters, the same things holds: 57% had no opinion, but unfavorable opinions tended to outnumber favorable opinions (25% vs. 18%).

So most people know little about Paul Ryan, which gives him an opportunity to introduce himself to the American electorate.  At the same time, the people who do know who he is don’t tend to view him favorably (unless they are Republicans).  This tendency among independents and undecided voters is potentially troubling for the Romney-Ryan ticket.

Can Ryan change the impressions of those who have them?  Probably not.  Can he shape the impressions of those who don’t have them, and shape them in a favorable way?  That’s the big question.

{ 9 comments }

Andreas Moser August 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

With this choice, Mitt Romney effectively admitted that he is giving up: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/mitt-romney-is-giving-up-2/

Harvey Hurd August 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Ryan may be troubling to dems but it is the direction this country need to go.We can’t survive another four years of Obamas policies.

Judi August 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm

You are joking right…..or are you just Troll?

Crystal August 12, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Harvey’s a joking troll. And that’s the worst kind. Ryan isn’t “troubling” to dems, he’s a plain old-fashioned hypocrite who survived on Social Security in his youth after his father died, used tax-payer funds to get an education and worked in government-paid jobs all his life, and now demands an end to all that wicked “entitlement” for everyone else coming up because, well, he’s already gotten his. He’s like his ridiculous heroine, Ayn Rand, who ended up surviving on the Social Security and Medicare rolls that she spent her pathetic life railing against….

glblank August 13, 2012 at 8:42 pm

It’s amazing that the lamestream media never picks up on this point, Paul Ryan is in fact a Kleptoparasite per Ayn Rand’s definition as was she. You a Badger Crystal? Harvey likes Kool-Aid, is probably from the lower middle class who votes Republican because they talk tough and is the party of Chuck Numbnuts.

artson August 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Well at least Paul Ryan is a man of substance. We may not all agree with him, but there will be a valid debate on substantive issues that matter. In my opinion Ryan will still cost Mitt the election (if he ever had any hope), but the election will now be about something.

Of course, up here in Canada it doesn’t matter that much.

Crystal August 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Actually Paul Ryan Paul Ryan is a man of substance abuse — not, not that kind, the brain kind.

Greta August 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm

The epitome of hypocrisy: Paul Ryan. He panders to the wealthy conservatives so he can keep his government financed job. He is a joke, as is his idol Ayn Rand was.

Teresa November 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm

The future of our country is at stake. Debt alone will destroy this country, and when this happens-inflation and the calling in of debt by other countries, especially China, nothing else is going to matter, not foreign policy, and not global warming. The buying power of the US dollar will be at a huge new low and everyone will be struggling to survive. If things are bad now for almost 50 million Americans, just wait. I have lived in Spain for the past 14 years, before the Euro. Salaries never increased but costs have skyrocketed, corruption in the housing sector was rampant and can be compared to the huge mortgage crisis here. Now, the middle and lower classes are being cut their pensions, which are already quite low, especially based on American standards, cut down to 26000 euro’s or less after working 39 years, for example, as a high school English teacher and head of the department. People can barely afford to live. That’s why they are in the streets everyday protesting. Governments are broke, including ours.
We need a man who understands economics and business, with a proven track record in balancing budgets, creating jobs, and valuing the economic principles and values that this country was founded on. WE NEED TO VOTE FOR A PROVEN LEADER WITH EXPERIENCE AND A RECORD TO BACK IT UP. PLEASE CONSIDER VOTING FOR MITT ROMNEY, FOR YOURSELVES, FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN AND FOR ALL AMERICANS AND THEIR FUTURES. HE IS THE ONLY HOPE RIGHT NOW FOR CHANGE-POSITIVE CHANGE FOR THE FUTURE OF THE COUNTRY. AS A CONCERNED AMERICAN, I BEG YOU TO PLEASE CONSIDER VOTING FOR GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY. Thank you.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: