Over the weekend, Republican presumptive candidate for the president Mitt Romney finally announced his running mate for November’s election. And although not too many had heard of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), he’s got plans for health care — and not just those of repealing Obamacare.
In being named as Romney’s running mate, Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a “premium support” system will gain new attention, according to Modern Healthcare, which had interviewed Ryan just nine days before Romney made his announcement. Modern Healthcare also placed Ryan first on its 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare list last year.
Picking Ryan was obviously a calculated choice for Romney. Social Security and Medicare are the two most important factors for Americans 50 years and older in this upcoming election, according to AARP. So far, this age group had been disappointed by both candidates for not paying much attention to these two programs.
Ryan sends the message that Romney is thinking about Medicare, which can only go over well with older Americans and leaves it in President Obama’s hands to step up.
Under Ryan’s Medicare overhaul proposal future enrollees would be able to enroll in a premium support plan, where seniors can choose from a variety of competitive plans, or in the traditional government option.
So far the reaction to Ryan has been tepid. According to Gallup, Americans’ immediate post-announcement reaction to Ryan was that 25% were favorable to him, 17% were unfavorable and a whopping 58% had never heard of him. The only recent vice-presidential pick who had been more unknown at the time the presidential candidate announced the pick was Sarah Palin. Almost a quarter of Americans (71%) had never heard of her as of Aug. 29, 2008.
Even among his own party he wasn’t incredibly well known as 31% of Republicans admitted they had never heard of him. However, half of the remaining Republicans who did know him had a favorable opinion.
All in all the pick of Ryan seems like it will only have a nominal affect at the election. Only 17% said they were more likely to vote for Romney, which is completely offset by the 12% that is less likely and the 5% with no opinion.
In comparison, in 2008 voters said they were 14% more likely and 7% less likely to vote for Obama after he announced Joe Biden as his running mate, and 18% more likely and 11% less likely to vote for John McCain after he announced Palin.
For the most part, more voters reported being more likely to vote for a candidate after a running mate is announced. The only time this didn’t hold true was for George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle. In 1988 voters were split with 10% being more likely and 10% being less likely. Things were worse in 1992 when only 6% were more likely and 25% were less likely. Bush’s opponent, Bill Clinton, his a home run, however. After announcing Al Gore as his running mate, Americans were 33% more likely to vote for Clinton and 8% less likely.
Luckily for Romney, Americans think his running mate is more qualified for the job than the last vice-presidential pick. Only 39% thought Palin was qualified with 33% saying she was unqualified. However, almost half (48%) say Ryan is qualified and only 29% say he is unqualified.