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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Romney Still Not Generating Excitement

Democrats have more intensely positive feelings about Barack Obama than Republicans have about Mitt Romney.

In the latest update of our Gallup Positive Intensity Scores for various presidential candidates, 42% of Democrats say that they have a strongly favorable opinion of Obama. More broadly, Obama’s image breaks down 86% favorable and 12% unfavorable among Democrats.

Republicans are less intense about Mitt Romney. In the same survey, 20% of Republicans say they have a strongly favorable opinion about Romney. Romney’s overall image among Republicans breaks down 67% favorable and 27% unfavorable.

In other words, Romney has a much less positive image among his native Republicans than does Obama among his native Democrats. And, most importantly, Romney is simply not generating the same kind of positive intensity among his base as Obama is.

Romney has, in fact, not been able to generate the same level of positive intensity as other GOP candidates this entire election cycle. As my colleague Jeff Jones pointed out in his analysis, Romney's current Positive Intensity Score of 13 (the percent who have a strongly favorable opinion minus the percent who have a strongly unfavorable opinion) is much lower than the Positive Intensity Score of 34 for Herman Cain at one point last fall, Mike Huckabee's maximum Positive Intensity Score of 27, Rick Perry's 25, and Newt Gingrich's 20.  Romney himself, it should be noted, had a Positive Intensity Score of 20 a year ago -- just after Gallup began tracking this measure -- but has not been able to climb back to these heights since.

Now, to be sure, some of this is because Romney is in the middle of a heated campaign in which his GOP opponents are constantly criticizing him.  Right now, as a matter of fact, more than half of Republicans say they support a Republican candidate other than Romney or no candidate at all.

If Romney wins the nomination, it is possible if not probable that his fellow Republicans and Republican-leaning independents will coalesce round him -- and perhaps get more excited about him.

Still, at this point in time, Romney is not “Mr. Excitement” as far as Republicans are concerned. They do not feel as strongly about him as they have felt about other Republican candidates over this election cycle.  They certainly don’t feel as strongly positive about him as Democrats do about their nominee, Barack Obama.

There is, however, some slightly-less bad news for Romney. He is not nearly as disliked by Democrats and Democratic-leaners as Obama is among Republicans and Republican-leaners. Yes, Romney has become more disliked by Democrats as the campaign has gone on this fall. The percentage of Democrats who say they have a strongly unfavorable opinion of Romney is now at 26%, up from 14% in mid-December. But, that’s nowhere near as negative as Obama’s image among Republicans. Fully 53% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now say they have a strongly unfavorable opinion of Obama.

The key is the trajectory of the path of Romney’s image among Democrats in the months to come, assuming that he wins his party’s nomination. The Obama campaign has yet to turn on their full campaign machinery, which will spare no prisoners in its effort to de-legitimize, and marginalize the GOP nominee once he is known. The Republican campaign will likewise begin to turn its full focus on de-legitimizing Obama. It will be fascinating to track the images of the two candidates as this process unfolds.


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