Paul Ryan's Moment
TAMPA — Say what you want about Paul Ryan’s politics; even Democrats in Congress struggle to find a negative word to say about him.
At least, that’s what Republicans have been arguing for the last two weeks.
And when it comes to the American public, it appears to be true.A new Washington Post-ABC News Poll poll asked Americans to say what one word comes to mind when they think about the GOP vice presidential nominee. And people have a hard time finding negative things to say about him.
None of the top nine words people use to describe Ryan are are negative, and six of the nine are positive (“intelligent,” “good,” “energetic,” “honest,” etc.).
Not until you get to the 10th- and 11th-most-cited words do Democrats’ attempts to define Ryan begin to register. That’s the point at which people start describing Ryan as an “idiot” and “extremist.”
And of the top 27 most-cited words, twice as many are positive — 16 — as negative — eight.
All of this from a guy who starts out with positive marks, though not overwhelmingly so. In fact, the positive words used to describe Ryan suggest a politician whose favorable rating is far better than it currently is.
In other words, it seems clear that many people have processed positive GOP messages about his intellect and his life story.
More than anything, though, it shows that Democratic attacks have yet to really sink in. Respondents actually offered nearly as many negative words as positive words, but the negative reviews are far more diffuse. Most negative words were only mentioned a handful of times, with little consensus on what’s bad about Ryan.
If Democrats’ efforts to label Ryan as an extremist who wants to end Medicare were really catching on, we would be seeing “extreme” and “Medicare” up higher. (In fact, “Medicare” wasn’t even mentioned.)
As Ryan gets ready to take the stage at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, Republican efforts to make sure people know Ryan is a serious and respected politician and person seem to have registered more than Democratic attacks on his record.
The speech will have three components, according to the campaign: Mr. Ryan will describe his life story, he will deconstruct the record and agenda of the Obama administration, and he will sing the praises of Mr. Romney.
It is the first part, his personal story, that Mr. Ryan has spoken about the least on the campaign trail. “Expect a lot of Janesville in it,” the adviser said, referring to Mr. Ryan’s hometown.