Vice President Joe Biden has a problem: nobody seems to like him. In the latest Pew Research Center poll, from October 2012, just 39% of the public had a favorable opinion of Biden, compared to 51% unfavorable; by contrast, Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has a 44%-40% favorability vs. unfavorability split. That split is even worse for Biden among independents, who dislike him by a 35% to 52% margin.
This is a drastic drop-off for Biden from 2008, when he had a favorable/unfavorable split of 53% to 31%, outclassing Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin, who clocked in at 51% favorable to 40% unfavorable.
There is good news for Biden, though: because nobody likes him, few expect him to beat Paul Ryan. The poll shows that 84% of Republicans consider themselves very likely or somewhat likely to watch the debate, compared with 82% of Democrats. But more importantly, 40% of voters expect Biden to lose the debate to Ryan; 34% expect Biden to win. Among independents, 42% expect Ryan to win, and just 25% expect Biden to win.
That’s the same sort of split we saw in the first presidential debate, where voters expected Barack Obama to win handily over Mitt Romney. Which poses a problem for Ryan: if he wins, he has done what was expected, while if he loses, Biden has made a comeback. The expectations are squarely on Ryan’s head. Thankfully, Ryan has lived up to all expectations thus far. And if the favorability ratings are any indicator, the American public is predisposed to like him.