Congress has rarely been very popular, but since the Republicans won control of the House in 2010, Congress’ job approval rating has fluctuated between being very low and reaching new historic lows. Now, according to Gallup, its job approval rating has again dropped and is tied with an all time low of just 10 percent approval. From Gallup:

Approve of Congress -- January 2011-August 2012

This all makes it very hard to understand why Mitt Romney thought it would be a good idea to choose a running mate who is a leader in Congress. I thought one of the few good arguments Romney had going for himself was plausible deniability for being responsible for the most unpopular recent Republican actions. After all, Romney didn’t serve in the Bush administration, so he can distance himself from its unpopularity, nor did Romney serve in Congress, which should have allowed him to distance himself from it as well. He could at least claim to be untainted.

Yet choosing Rep. Paul Ryan Romney has ruined this advantage. Not only has Romney tied himself to an historically unpopular Congress, but he has directly tied himself to the architect of one of the most unpopular things Republicans have done during this Congress, which is to push for a plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program.

Ryan is not particular popular or well known outside the chattering class. He doesn’t bring an important swing state or swing voting bloc. While VP picks have only a small impact in elections, I fail to see what real benefits Ryan adds thatmake up for throwing away what I previously thought was one of Romney’s biggest strengths.