Study: Romney Most Unpopular Presidential Candidate in Generation

Monday, 19 Mar 2012 11:17 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Mitt Romney would have to turn in the best performance of any modern presidential candidate between now and the general election in November to beat President Barack Obama, according to an analysis by The Daily Beast.

The former Massachusetts governor’s favorable ratings among potential voters are the worst of any likely presidential nominee in the past 36 years, the Beast reported Monday, citing a breakdown of at least 20 polls showing an extreme lack of enthusiasm for the Romney campaign.

“Since 1976, no serious contender, Democrat or Republican, has watched his favorable ratings fall as low as Romney’s have in recent months. Or watched his unfavorable ratings climb as high. Or watched his overall numbers stay underwater — that is, more unfavorable than favorable — for so long,” the Beast reported.

Editor's Note: Who Do You Think Is the Best GOP Candidate? Vote In this Urgent Poll.

“At this rate, Romney is shaping up to be the most unpopular [likely] presidential nominee on record.”

Still, Republican officials contend that all is not lost and refer to the campaigns of Bill Clinton in 1992 and Ronald Reagan in 1980 as examples of how anything can happen to turn things around. Both lagged way behind in head-to-head match-up polls at about the same time in their campaigns, and went on to win their nominations and the presidency.

Romney is trailing Obama by an average of only 4 percentage points in most polls, these GOP officials noted in the Beast article. Not bad, under normal circumstances.

But the more important indicator of how a Romney-Obama contest might turn out is in how the polls score their favorable ratings, according to the Beast analysis.

“Unfortunately, this is terrible news for Mitt, because he currently boasts the worst primary-season favorable-unfavorable split of any major-party nominee of the last 36 years [at least],” the Beast reported.

“There have been roughly 20 polls released in the last two months; only one gives him a positive favorable rating. The rest of the surveys show Romney’s unfavorables outstripping his favorables, often by as many as 20 percentage points." it said. "On five occasions, his unfavorable rating has topped 50 percent; his favorable rating has fallen into the 20s five times as well. As of March 12, when the last of these polls was released, Romney was averaging 49.6 percent unfavorable to 37.6 percent favorable — a gap of 11.7 points.”

The Beast makes its case most directly by listing the unfavorables of candidates going back to Jimmy Carter, who lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Editor's Note: Who Do You Think Is the Best GOP Candidate? Vote In this Urgent Poll.

"In mid-April 1980, Carter’s numbers were stuck at 43 percent favorable to 48 percent unfavorable; he wound up losing to Reagan by 440 electoral votes," the Beast reports. "By the end of March 1984, Walter Mondale had slipped from 40 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable — his February stats — to 32 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable; the only state he won in November was Minnesota.

"On February 27, 1996, Bob Dole posted an anemic 23 percent favorable rating, and his numbers had not improved much by May, when they registered at 27 percent favorable to 29 percent unfavorable," according to The Beast. "Even though Dole eventually dug out of his hole, he still lost the general election by more than 8 million votes. History shows that if voters don’t like you in the spring, they tend not to vote for you in the fall."



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