Later today, Paul Ryan will meet with Donald Trump, a summit brokered by the GOP in order to help unite Republicans against Hillary Clinton. Ryan, who as Speaker of the House would normally serve as convention chair, expressed reservations about supporting Trump — and immediately became the target of threats of getting primaried. So far, though, the “Cantoring” of Paul Ryan looks like a bust:
Paul Ryan has an overwhelming lead on GOP challenger Paul Nehlen, according to a new poll.
The Remington Research Group found 78 percent of likely Republicans in the 1st CD backed Ryan, while 14 supported Paul Nehlen. The firm’s director wrote in an email it was the first survey the Kansas City, Mo., firm has done in the Ryan-Nehlen match up.
The contretemps with Trump hasn’t done much damage to Ryan’s standing in his district, either. One reason is that Trump himself isn’t all that popular in WI-01. While Ryan gets a 75/15 favorability rating in the district, Trump only gets a 41/43. Sarah Palin, who threatened that Ryan would get “Cantored” by Nehlen and publicly endorsed the challenger, does even worse at 24/54.
Ryan’s numbers are only slightly lower than a separate poll of WI-01 conducted by Marquette Law School, considered the gold standard of Wisconsin pollsters in March, and repeated by USA Today yesterday:
Ryan was viewed favorably by 81% of Republican voters in his district and unfavorably by 12% in a late March poll by the Marquette University Law School.
By contrast, Trump was viewed favorably by 28% of those voters and unfavorably by 59%.
The survey was taken before Trump became the presumptive nominee and before last week’s dramatic announcement by Ryan, the party’s highest-ranking public official, that he isn’t ready yet to make an endorsement.
Assuming that the two polls have a similar relative accuracy, Ryan’s in no danger of getting “Cantored” by anyone. His reluctance to back Trump has done little to dim his popularity in his home district. RightWisconsin covers the breadth of Ryan’s support in the Remington poll:
Those numbers are certain to tighten as the campaign progresses, but Nehlen is unlikely to get much of a boost from his decision to go after the fact that Ryan is a Catholic who sends his children to a Catholic school. See here.
The poll found Ryan broadly popular across demographic lines and throughout the congressional district. Ryan has a 79% approval rating among women and a 76% approval rating among men. The speaker is rated favorably by 73% of voters aged 18-39, and by a stunning 89% of voters aged 40-49 .(His ratings for older voters are also astronomical,) He has a 75% approval rating in the Madison media market and an even more robust 78% approval rating in the talk radio heavy Milwaukee media market.
Nor does Ryan seem to have a problem with conservatives. The Remington poll found that 82% of self identified conservatives rate Ryan favorably; along with 68% of moderates and 59% of liberals.
There’s nothing wrong with primary challenges, especially to entrenched leaders who get lost in the DC landscape. That certainly was the case with Eric Cantor, who barely visited his district and was rumored to have subpar constituent services, and whose attention appeared entirely focused on his ambition to become Speaker until he got the electoral shock of his life. At least so far, that hasn’t applied to Paul Ryan, as his numbers in WI-01 show, and whose determination to remain part of his district is well known inside and outside of it. While Ryan may have erred in his vocal non-support while serving in his leadership role — there were better ways to express his reluctance — it actually demonstrates independence from the current GOP leadership class, and reflects the skepticism of his constituents. At the very least, this shows that the people promising a “Cantoring” of Ryan may be the ones out of touch with the temper of voters in Wisconsin.
Besides, after today, the question will almost certainly become entirely moot. Ryan made that clear enough in his press conference yesterday when he said that Republicans had to focus on beating Hillary Clinton … and Trump’s the only option the GOP has for that now.