Americans don't believe GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney hit a home run with his choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, with more of the public giving him lower marks than high ones.
Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, is seen as only a "fair" or "poor" choice by 42% of Americans vs. 39% who think he is an "excellent" or "pretty good" vice presidential choice.
That's a net of -3%, which wouldn't be so bad were it not for the fact that Ryan is the first running mate from either major party to have a net-unfavorable response since Dan Quayle in 1988.
The response from Team Romney is that the right-wing congressman is not yet well known by most of the public. There's certainly some truth to that, but as Kevin Drum noted, "Among non-political junkies (i.e., normal people) Jack Kemp wasn't very well known. Cheney wasn't well known. Biden wasn't very well known. And Palin wasn't well known. But initially, they all polled better than Ryan."
The same poll asked whether Ryan is qualified to be president -- a relevant consideration given that the VP is "one heartbeat away" -- and the Budget Committee chairman fared better, with 48% saying he is qualified. That's the good news. The bad news is, there have only been three VP nominees who failed to reach 50%: Paul Ryan, Palin, and Quayle. That's not good company.
Maddow Blog chart based on USA Today/Gallup data
Update: Of course, as it turns out, Americans aren't the only ones concerned with Ryan's qualifications for national office. By Romney's own standards, his running mate isn't ready to lead.