We now have our first really solid evidence that choosing Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) may have actually helped Mitt Romney politically. The latest poll from PPP finds that Romney has a one point lead in Wisconsin and that Ryan may have helped cement the Republican base for him. From PPP:

PPP’s first Wisconsin poll since Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate finds him taking a small lead over Barack Obama in the state, 48-47. That represents a 7 point shift from PPP’s last look at the state in early July, which found Obama ahead 50-44.

The biggest change Ryan’s selection seems to have brought about is the unification of the GOP. Romney’s gone from a 78 point lead with Republicans on our last poll (87-9) to now an 88 point lead with them (93-5). There’s also been a tightening with independents. Obama still has a 4 point lead with them at 47-43, but that’s down from a 14 point advantage at 53-39 six weeks ago. Democrats are unchanged from the previous poll.

Ryan isn’t exactly a universally popular figure in his home state. 49% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 45% with a negative one. But that does give him the best numbers of anybody on either ticket in the state. Obama has a 46% approval rating with 50% of voters disapproving of him, Romney has a 45/48 favorability rating, and Joe Biden stands at 41/48

It was likely that as we got closer to the election, base Republicans were going to start rallying behind their nominee anyway.  So all of the improvement in Romney’s standing isn’t just the result from Ryan; but he probably did help.

If the Romney team can actually make Wisconsin competitive that would be a big help to them. Republicans are mainly playing defense this election. Taking a traditional blue state like Wisconsin would allow them to potentially counter the loss of a traditionally red state like Virginia.

In the short term it looks like Ryan was a minor help in his home state. The next big test of Ryan’s value will come at the end of the month when we see if he managed to significantly improve Romney’s fundraising.