Republicans Still Hoping For Ryan Bump In Polls

Rep. Kevin McCarthy thinks it’s coming. But so far, the polls have hardly moved.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Calif. leaves the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. J. Scott Applewhite / AP

TAMPA — Eager for a momentum boost, Republicans on Tuesday said they are still hoping Mitt Romney will see a boost in public opinion polls from his selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate – even as the campaign is tempering expectations for a post-convention bump.

“I think that’s going to come after the convention,” Pennsylvania delegate Scott Thomas said of a Ryan effect on the polls. “That’s when he’s really going to be introduced.”

“Anytime you select a VP, you always get an excitement at the very beginning because it’s the new item on the ticket,” said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy in a roundtable with reporters Tuesday.

“Does it have a lasting effect? I think the answer is yes, that Paul gets a lasting effect.”

Historically, the mere act of adding a running mate to the ticket has catalyzed a three- or four-point increase in polls; in some years, numbers have jumped by more than ten points.

In 2008, John McCain’s campaign enjoyed an average 4-point increase in polls when Sarah Palin was added to the ticket, according to The Guardian; the largest boost since 1984 came from Al Gore in 1992, who moved polls for his running mate, Bill Clinton, by an average of 12 points.

But polls have indicated that Ryan has only helped Romney by about one percentage point—hardly the kind of boost that can swing a campaign outcome, or even one state.

When pressed by a reporter, McCarthy conceded there hasn’t been much of a boost from the selection Ryan, but said he thought that was because “the country doesn’t know him yet,” or because many voters have already made up their minds.

“This is a tough race,” he added. “This isn’t once that’s going to have big swings.”

On the convention floor, Republican delegates were certain the Ryan bump would come.

“I think that’s going to come after the convention,” Pennsylvania delegate Scott Thomas said of a Ryan effect on the polls. “That’s when he’s really going to be introduced.”

And some Republicans discounted the need for a polling boost now, predicting the “bump” will be evident in Romney’s Election-Day victory.

‘The bump in the polls is going to come on November 6, that is all I care about,” said Janis Holt, a delegate from Texas.

“Or November 7, when we wake up,” a fellow delegate from Texas, Vita Swarers, added.

Holt retorted, “I won’t wake up because I’ll be out all night celebrating!”

Still, the reality for campaigns is that these sorts of poll boosts – either from a vice presidential candidate selection, the nominating convention or the debates – are seen as key milestones in a campaign, a fact borne out by the Romney campaign’s decision to temper expectations for the post convention period.

Meanwhile, McCarthy, the third ranking member in the House and one of the Republicans’ biggest young talents, downplayed the need for the party to conduct specific outreach to blacks, Latinos and other groups his party has had trouble reaching.

“I come from California, which is much more diverse,” McCarthy said. “I realize that in Washington, within the Republican Party, we have to expand.”

Unlike other Republican leaders who have urged better outreach to minority, female and youth voters, McCarthy advocated a broader effort based on “unity.”

“I think the party needs to go unify the country around ‘American,’” McCarthy said.

But when asked what issues the party might reexamine to accomplish this, McCarthy did not give a specific example.

Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner noted the party’s “gender gap,” but said that women and minorities alike would be drawn to the Republican Party due to the economic downturn.

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