The only poll where Romney really struggles

2012-07-26 13:43

New York - If you’re following electoral happenings in the US, you will have noted that incumbent Democratic candidate, President Barack Obama, and presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, are virtually neck and neck in polls.

Both men have around 45%-47% of the national vote, and are furiously competing for the remaining 6%-10%.

Public opinion seems to suggest that although voters trust Romney slightly more to deal with the economy, this advantage is offset by Obama’s lead in swing states.

However, there is another less-reported poll, which could come to hurt Romney as he chases those voters who haven’t made up their mind yet: People don’t like him.
A CNN/ORC poll in May found that 56% of respondents thought Obama was likeable, but only 27% thought the same of Romney. More recent polls show a marginal upswing into the 30s, but Obama remains way more popular than the former Massachusetts governor.

And while likeability shouldn’t, in principle, be a deciding factor, it is folly to think it doesn’t have a bearing on the election’s outcome.

Media's liberal bias

While no one really expected hordes to begin queuing up for a beer or a hug from Romney, the gap between him and the president is slightly surprising and should make conservatives, who still aren’t crazy about their candidate, a little nervous about who will be occupying the Oval Office from January.
One of Romney’s weaknesses is his propensity to gaffe sporadically when talking off the cuff.

There is an arguable liberal bias in the mainstream US media and every single time Romney has gaffed, and some of them have really just been the most horrid sound bites, they have been repeated ad nauseum.

And Romney’s attempts at upping the motivation of the Republican base (to be clear, they are generally white, middle-to-low income, conservative Christians) have also been framed in ways he doesn’t like all that much, some of which are fair and some of which are not.
Romney has managed to irritate poor folks who think he’s a snob, with sound bites such as “take a shot, go for it, take a risk and get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business”. And, when trying to get in with Michigan (the car-making capital of America) he said, “I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pick-up truck. [My wife] drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually”.

Neither time did Romney realise that not all other people’s parents have cash to be borrowed, nor does he become a man of the people by telling everyone his wife drives two cars.

Specific demographics

It isn’t solely the fact that Romney has lots of dosh that alienates folks, or gives the press reason to scream about it for a few days. It is the perception that Romney doesn’t get how most Americans live that hurts him in this sense.

He has dropped other bad sound bites that were also then cycled out of context, only reinforcing this image.
Among specific demographics, Romney hasn’t helped himself either.

While speaking at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) a fortnight ago, Romney laid out his proposals for the way he would govern, without dealing with the political concerns specific to black Americans, such as stop-and-search, the skew in criminal convictions of black people compared to whites for the same crime, and new voter identification laws (which ultimately make it harder for poor Americans, many of whom are black, to vote).
Romney organised a trip to Israel to shore up the votes of American Jewish folks, and planned a fundraiser on 29 July, which in the Jewish calendar is the 9th of Av, Tisha B’Av, a fast day that mourns the destruction of the first and second temples, along with other incidents.

The Romney campaign did not respond to News24’s request for clarification over whether the fundraiser was going ahead, but organising a fundraiser on the saddest day in Jewish calendar is hardly the best way to begin courting the support of Jewish voters, or the citizens of America’s staunchest ally.

Hard line on immigration

Again, this isn’t solely determinative of the result of the election, but merely adds to the perception that Romney isn’t a likeable man.
Latino voters (whose preference, should they come out and vote in large numbers like 2008, could help determine which way the race goes) are the demographic equivalent of a swing state.

Again, this group tends to lean Democratic, but enough of a percentage aiming towards Republicans helped George W Bush win the White House twice.

However, Romney’s hard line on immigration, which he was virtually forced into during an aggressive primary campaign (if you remember, former candidate Texas governor Rick Perry took a beat down for claiming his opponents “have a heart” when they criticised his state’s policies of educating the children of illegal immigrants) isn’t raising Romney’s likability within this group, remotely.
Even among classic Republican voters, Romney struggles to create more enthusiasm than there already is for the party (and remember, enthusiasm will dictate how many people come out and vote in November).

Evangelicals aren’t thrilled at the prospect of voting for someone with a comparatively socially liberal history (who happens to be a member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints – Mormon).

Slog ahead

This is evidenced by only a small uptick in approval ratings in conservative swing state North Carolina since Rick Santorum (who made evangelical voters giddy with excitement) fell out of the Republican race.
And sadly for the Republican candidate, he has a bit of a slog ahead, as Obama remains likeable, and ahead in swing states.  If the presidential candidates had the same likeability rating, it is unlikely Obama would have a creakingly increasing advantage there.  
US elections are won on small margins, with small factors dictating them, and both men still have time to change their ratings, and with clever campaigning, the ratings of their opponent.

  • kafantaris2 - 2012-07-26 18:08

    "Take care of your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves." Or, "take care of the country and your reelection will take care of itself." The wisdom of this was missed by the President's handlers who also misjudged the savvy of the independent voters. Why else would they have bombarded them with dumbed down TV ads?  Somebody should have told them that these folks are sitting on the fence for a reason, and it is not a lack of foresight.  Indeed, it takes more foresight to figure out things yourself  than to merely follow one herd or another. And deciding the things you care about does take time.  Yet, independent voters also need help. Though they do not blame the President for all of the country's problems, or expect him to fix them overnight, they do expect him to stay on the task day by day. Yes, honest effort is what they want, but they are not seeing it lately.  Perhaps this is because the President's handlers are too worried about losing their jobs to let him do his.  But he is the President and he should get them all out of his way to focus on running our country. Besides, keeping his nose on the grindstone might be the best way to convince the independents that he should get more time to finish out the job.

  • pages:
  • 1