Many people didn't think anything—positive or negative—about Paul Ryan before Saturday. Ryan's addition to the Romney campaign changed few opinions of the Republican. A pre-Ryan poll shows an extremely tight race, one that is also reflected in a Missouri poll. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter.
Findings: Before Mitt Romney announced that Paul Ryan would be his vice presidential pick Saturday 45 percent of Americans had no opinion on the Wisconsin congressman. During that period 23 percent viewed him favorably and 32 percent viewed him unfavorably. After the announcement 38 percent viewed him favorably and 33 percent unfavorably. Thirty percent still had no opinion.
Pollster: Washington Post/ABC News
Methodology: The "before VP announcement" results were derived from 667 interviews via landline and cele phone between August 8 and 10 with a margin of error as 4.5 percentage points. The "after" results were derived from 522 interviews conducted August 11 through 12 with margin of error of 5.5 percentage points.
Why it matters: The Washington Post's Ezra Klein makes this point about this poll and the USA Today/Gallup numbers, "Given those numbers, it’s difficult to imagine that the post-Ryan bump will be radically different from what Romney would have received from any credible VP pick, and it might even be weaker."
Caveat: As the poll notes: "Initial views of a vice-presidential choice are not necessarily predictive of sentiments as the candidate becomes better known." Also, in listing the after-announcement results, the poll notes that 14 percent had a "somewhat" unfavorable impression and 18 percent had a "strongly" unfavorable impression. Although that adds up to 32, the poll lists the "NET" unfavorable at 33.
Findings: For now, Paul Ryan's not doing much to help Mitt Romney's bid for president. In a new poll 51 percent of those surveyed said the announcement did not change their opinion of the Republican, 26 percent said they viewed the candidate more favorably, 23 percent said they viewed him less favorably. Also, even though 80 percent said they had heard of Ryan, only 35 percent "said they were familiar with him."
Methodology: 508 registered voters were polled between August 11 and 13. There is a "credibility interval" of +/-5.1 percentage points.
Why it matters: According to Reuters' Andy Sullivan, Ipsos vice president Julia Clark emphasizes that this poll shows something similar to what we saw in the poll above: "He's fairly unknown in who he is and what he stands for." Since Ryan seems to be a blank slate for most of America, what will swing people for or away from the ticket is still to be seen.
Caveat: Ultimately, as noted above, these are just immediate results.
Findings: Obama and Romney are in a "statistical tie" in a new poll — Obama with 48 percent of voters and Romney with 47 percent. Despite the closeness of the poll results, 56 percent of those surveyed think Obama is going to win the election compared to only 33 percent who think Romney will. While 20 percent said they would consider voting for the other candidate, according to Politico's Emily Schultheis. So, 62 percent of those were "Romney supporters who could go with Obama, compared with 38 percent who said they back Obama now but could end up behind the Republican candidate."
Methodology: 1,000 registered "likely" voters were surveyed between August 5 and 9. The margin of error is +/-3.1 percentage points.
Why this matters: This poll brings national numbers back into neck and neck status after some had swung strongly in favor of Obama.
Caveat: The overall numbers include those that say they will "definitely" vote for Obama or Romney, but also take into account those that say they will "probably" vote for either candidate or "lean" towards either candidate. Also the poll was taken before the announcement of Paul Ryan as vice president.
Findings: Romney has 45 percent of the vote in Missouri compared to Obama's 44 percent.
Methodology: 720 adults in Missouri were surveyed via home telephone in "the recorded voice of a professional announcer" and via "questionnaire on their smartphone, laptop or other electronic device" between August 9 and August 12. Of that sample 654 were registered voters and 585 were "determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote" in the general election. The margin of error for those likely to vote is +/-4.1 percent.
Why this matters: SurveyUSA notes that the 1 percentage point divide between the two candidates is "statistically insignificant." This is actually good news for Obama. The Hill's Cameron Joseph notes that Missouri is a state that "most consider to lean Republican and that is a must-win for Romney," and adds: "Three late-July polls showed him with between a 6- and 9-point lead in the state, and neither candidate has shown any sign that he sees the state as competitive."
Caveat: Though SurveyUSA says that 57 percent of the interviews took place after it was announced that Ryan would be vice president they caution: "The results of this survey should not be interpreted as a reaction to the Ryan announcement."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.