Michael Tomasky looks at the trend in Romney’s favorability ratings:
This is not broadly remarked upon, but have you noticed that Romney’s favorability ratings, after heading the right direction in spring and early summer, are going southward again? This CNN survey from last week is representative of the stuff I’ve seen:
According to the Pew Research Center survey, 37% of respondents said they hold a favorable view of the presumptive GOP nominee, compared to 41% in June.
In its findings, Pew noted that July marked the sixth consecutive month in a row in which more people held an unfavorable view of Romney than a favorable view.
The poll shows that the former Massachusetts governor’s rating significantly improved between March and June, when other GOP contenders dropped out of the race and the Republican base united around Romney.
Since then, however, the candidate has struggled to maintain his image, according to the poll, as he battles head-to-head against President Barack Obama’s fully-loaded re-election campaign.
Remember: In the spring, when he was locked in his mud-match with Rick Santorum and pandering to the right and outspending poor Rick seven to one in all those states, he was viewed rather poorly. Then all the experts said, well, now that that’s over, and he can move toward the center and he’s not in a daily pissing match, views will of him will improve.
And they did. Until…until what? We don’t know for sure, but I doubt it’s anything specific. I think it’s just general exposure, and people just don’t like the guy.
Doesn’t mean that Romney still doesn’t have close to a 50% shot at winning, but he’s certainly seems to have stopped winning anybody over. And there’s little reason to expect dramatic improvement barring a deal with the devil bringing a personality transplant. On a related note TNR’s Nate Cohn notes that Romney’s strategy is all about bashing Obama while doing little to try and improve Romney’s favorability (though, I’ve seen lots of ads from Karl Rove’s SuperPAC mentioning that 2002 winter Olympians love him. If he’s good enough for Kristi Yamaguchi…!). Cohn:
Reading too far into campaign strategy isn’t always a good idea. But in this instance, the overwhelmingly negative character of team Romney’s early efforts requires an explanation. While the conventional wisdom holds that a majority of voters are simply looking for a viable alternative to the president, a broad set of evidence suggests it’s more complicated. On the other hand, if voters are really geared up to vote Obama out of office, then Romney should fire his staff for political malpractice. Failure to vigorously contest Obama’s negative advertising is endangering his chances.
Of course, Romney’s problem may be that there’s just not enough good ammo (that’s still palatable to the conservative base) that he can use.