Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mitt Romney: To know, know, know him is to dislike him


Professional politicos will say that polls come and go and that the only poll that counts is the one on election day. Yes, we've all heard them say that. But what really matters in polling is trending. I'm no expert in the dismal science of public opinion surveys, but I know what tracking polls are. They plot performance over time. And that tells you where things are likely headed, which is a very useful piece of information in politics.

On that point, Public Policy Polling (PPP) released an analysis of polling they have done over time on Mitt Romney's favourability rating, which is basically the extent to which people like him. Here's what they had to say:

You want to know the biggest reason Mitt Romney hasn't surged at any point in the Republican Presidential race this year? It's because the more GOP primary voters across the country have been exposed to him, the less they like him.

There are 13 places PPP has polled the Republican race in October or November where it also did a poll sometime between January and March. In those places Romney's net favourability has dropped by an average of 15 points over the course of the year.

Mitt Romney waving goodbye
PPP also notes that as all the other pretenders have risen and fallen over time, Romney hasn't seen any increase in his support. In fact, just the opposite. When GOP voters have gotten tired of Trump or Bachmann or Perry or Cain, they have not shifted their support to Romney, as one would assume given how often most of us talk about the fact that he simply has to be the nominee. The Republican segment of the electorate, it seems, disagrees.

Romney's support has been moving away from him and then moving to a variety of candidates over time never to return to the former Governor of Massachusetts.

Does this mean he won't win the nomination? I don't know. I still can't imagine Newt Gingrich as the nominee, although I'd like to because Obama would kick his ass. For Romney to win, Republicans will have to hold their noses and vote for him anyway, though they have made it clear they would rather not.

In any case, when the most remarkable feature of your so-called front-running candidate is in the fact that the more voters see of him the less they like him, it's time to make a change. Of course, Republicans have done nothing but change horses and to no avail.

It remains to be seen where Gingrich's votes will go when his support tanks, as it inevitably will. Odds are it won't be to Romney.

My favourite  pastime of the past several weeks has been to game scenarios in which Romney fails to win the GOP nomination. Guess it could happen.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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