The good news for Mitt Romney is that a Washington Post/ABC News poll shows his favorable numbers among Republicans increasing to a record high. Now that the race for the GOP presidential nomination is effectively over, the party’s rank-and-file is starting to get in line, just as the former governor had hoped.
The bad news for Romney is that no one else seems to like him very much, especially women and minorities. The poll shows him “less popular than any recent major party nominee in available Post-ABC polling dating to 1984.” In other words, this poll has been keeping track of major-party nominees for nearly three decades, and it’s never seen a candidate this unpopular with American voters.
The same poll shows President Obama’s popularity increasing, reaching a two-year high. While Romney’s favorable rating is 35%, the president’s is 56%. It led the New York Times to note that Romney is “facing a severe crisis of popularity.”
A new CNN poll shows similar results, and includes specific questions about personal attributes that help explain why, exactly, Romney is struggling. It’s not entirely substantive – when asked which candidate can get the economy moving, Obama leads the former governor, but only by two points.
The problem, as this chart I put together helps show, is personal.
Note that Obama leads Romney in every category, but enjoys the biggest lead in the “likable” category.”
As we talked about last week, at a certain level, this may seem irrelevant – presidential races aren’t personality contests. Except, a lot of the time, like it or not, they are personality contests.
Especially in the television era, the candidate who’s better liked is generally better positioned to win, and at least at this point, voters’ perceptions of Romney just aren’t favorable at all. After nearly six years on the national campaign trail, Americans don’t seem to like the guy.
Making matters worse, this isn’t an easy problem to fix.