August 16th, 2012
05:39 PM ET
Washington (CNN) – In a polling memo released by campaign pollster Joel Benenson on Thursday, Team Obama tried to paint Rep. Paul Ryan as one of the worst vice presidential selections in recent history.
"This reflects something about Mitt Romney's decision making priorities and what he did was he tapped as a running mate the person who's been dubbed the leader of the most extreme wing of the Congressional Republicans," Benenson said on a conference call accompanying the memo.
The historically low public approval ratings of Congress combined with the public's opinion of Ryan's readiness to be commander in chief "are all factors that go into this being a very uninspiring choice and reflecting that it's not a boost to the ticket, if anything it's a drag on the ticket," Benenson argued.
To back up this claim, Benenson pointed to recent tracking polls done by Gallup, Rasmussen and Economist/YouGov showing that Mitt Romney's choice of Ryan hasn't significantly helped to close the gap between him and President Obama. He also stressed historical comparisons of polling done over the last 25 years to argue that the public believes Ryan is less qualified to be president than any vice presidential pick other than Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle.
"Obviously there's always a lot of chatter about the VP nomination and their effect on a ticket historically shows that voters are basing their choice based on the candidates for president, the people at the top of the ticket not the VP," Benenson conceded. "But when the choice does matter, when it does enter into the equation is when it does reflect about the decision making ability and the decision priorities of the nominee at the top of the ticket and on this score it seems that Romney is not meeting the test from the vantage point of voters."
Benenson backed this accusation up in his memo with a Gallup poll showing that just 39% of respondents viewed Romney's choice of Ryan as "excellent" or "good," the lowest positive response rate since the organization began asking the question in 1988. Gallup also found that 42% felt that Ryan was an "only fair" or "poor" choice, the second highest negative rating of a VP selection since Quayle.
But the same Gallup poll also showed that Ryan may be an effective choice to help energize his party's base, finding that 39% of Republican respondents considered him an "excellent" pick. This ranks among the highest positive responses that Gallup has seen among respondents from either party in recent years, besting both Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney who received 34% and 18% respectively.