Worried that we might not get any more pearls of wisdom from Sheriff Joe Biden, after being sent to the doghouse for distracting attention from Team Obama attacks on Paul Ryan’s fitness by making people wonder whether Barack Obama needed to find a new running mate himself?  Fret no longer.  CBS’ Mark Knoller informed us on Twitter that Biden will be, er, unchained this week for appearances in Minnesota and Michigan:

Or, as Biden knows them, Wisconsin and Ohio.  Seriously, though, the choices of venue are interesting. Both could potentially be swing states in this election, although Minnesota’s more of a long shot for that status.  A few more Biden miscues could put them further into play for Mitt Romney.  It might have been safer to send Biden to places like California and New York for fundraisers, where his verbal missteps would do less damage, but in this era of total media saturation, venue probably doesn’t make that much difference.

However, Biden has made a great deal of difference in perception of the ticket … and so far, that’s great news for Republicans.  A new national poll of likely voters from Rasmussen shows that Biden has dropped behind Paul Ryan in perceived qualification for the top job of President — despite nearly four years of being VP:

Voters are evenly divided as to whether Paul Ryan or Joe Biden is better qualified to serve as president. Not surprisingly, there’s a huge partisan divide on the issue.

Forty-two percent (42%) of Likely U.S. Voters say Ryan’s more qualified to be the chief executive, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. But nearly as many (40%) think Biden is a better fit for the job. Eighteen percent (18%) are undecided.

The partisan divide won’t make Democrats feel any better, though:

While 81% of Republicans feel Ryan is better qualified, just 74% of Democrats feel that way about Biden. Voters not affiliated with either major political party are fairly evenly divided.

Independents split on the question, but even that’s not good news for Biden.  They’re split at 36%.  That’s hardly a ringing vote of confidence for the man who’s been one heartbeat away from the Presidency for almost four years.  Ryan, on the other hand, has only been under consideration for a week — actually less than that at the point in time the survey was taken, August 14-15.  The 28% undecided are not likely to suddenly discover that Biden is seriously qualified; they’re much more likely to base their judgment solely on how Ryan performs in comparison to Biden.  After this past week, that’s very bad news for Team Obama, especially with Biden heading back out to the campaign trail.