Thursday Reads: Is It Really Down To Either Mitt or Newt?Posted: December 1, 2011
It’s been obvious from the polls that Mitt Romney is not very popular with Republicans. As Donald Trump, Michele Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and have risen and fallen, Romney has stayed near 25%. But now PPP Polling says that as voters get to know Mitt, they like him even less than before.
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 favorability has dropped by an average of 15 points over the course of the year.
On average Romney’s favorability with primary voters was 54/25 in these 13 places at the begininng of the year. Now it’s only 50/35. His problem is partially that his positives have gone down but more than that it’s that as his name recognition has increased, most folks moving off the fence have gone into the negative column.
What’s most remarkable about the decline in Romney’s popularity is how uniform it’s been- he’s less popular now than he was at the start of the year in all 13 places where there are polls to compare. And in 11 out of the 13 places that decline in his net favorability has been at least 14 points- the only places with more modest declines are Maine and North Carolina.
As someone who lives in the state that Romney governed for four long, unproductive years, I’m not at all surprised. This man is more wooden than Al Gore, more up-tight than Callista Gingrich, and more awkward and a far worse flip-flopper than John Kerry. Mitt was for it before he was against it, then for it again, and against it again. He is also more amoral and value-free than Barack Obama. On top of that, he’s been endorsed by Ann Coulter.
Frankly, I rather watch Newt Gingrich run against Obama. At least it would be entertaining. Obama vs. Romney would be sleep-inducing.
Now let’s take a look at Romney’s economic record in Massachusetts. This 2007 op-ed from The Boston Globe sums up Romney’s governorship very well (emphasis added).
Our analysis reveals a weak comparative economic performance of the state over the Romney years, one of the worst in the country.
On all key labor market measures, the state not only lagged behind the country as a whole, but often ranked at or near the bottom of the state distribution. Formal payroll employment in the state in 2006 was still 16,000 or 0.5 percent below its average level in 2002, the year immediately prior to the start of the Romney administration. Massachusetts ranked third lowest on this key job generation measure and would have ranked second lowest if Hurricane Katrina had not devastated the Louisiana economy. Manufacturing payroll employment throughout the nation declined by nearly 1.1 million or 7 percent between 2002 and 2006, but in Massachusetts it declined by more than 14 percent, the third worst record in the country.
While the number of employed people over age 16 in the United States rose by nearly 8 million, or close to 6 percent, between 2002 and 2006, the number of employed residents in the Commonwealth is estimated to have modestly declined by 8,500. Massachusetts was the only state to have failed to post any gain in its pool of employed residents. The aggregate number of people 16 and older either working or looking for work in Massachusetts fell over the Romney years.
We were one of only two states to have experienced no growth in its resident labor force. Again, without the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina on the dispersal of the Louisiana population, Massachusetts would have ranked last on this measure. The decline in the state’s labor force, which was influenced in large part by high levels of out-migration of working-age adults, helped hold down the official unemployment rate of the state. Between July 2002 and July 2006, the US Census Bureau estimated that 222,000 more residents left Massachusetts for other states than came here to live. This high level of net domestic out-migration was equivalent to 3.5 percent of the state’s population, the third highest rate of population loss in the country. Excluding the population displacement effects of Hurricane Katrina on Louisiana, Massachusetts would have ranked second highest on this measure. We were a national leader in exporting our population.
That’s what we’ll get with a Romney presidency. He’d be far worse than Obama has been. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.
I know the Republicans started out disliking Romney because they don’t believe he’s a conservative. But once they see him perform on TV or in person, they realize he’s actually a robot pretending to be a man. The media won’t tell them about Romney’s economic failure in Massachusetts, but if he wins they’ll find out he’s dumb as a post and has no clue how to create jobs or improve the economy.
Dakinikat sent me this fascinating article from the NYT Magazine yesterday: Building a Better Mitt Romney-Bot. The article is about the efforts of Romney’s campaign advisers to make him look more like a regular guy. They’re keeping him away from opportunities for the press to ask open-ended questions, because Romney did that in 2008 and it didn’t go well.
“You can’t control the message,” one of Romney’s senior advisers later explained to me. “But at a business round table, it’s much more easily controlled because you’re having a group of businessmen, and you’re talking about the economy and the challenges that they may be facing, and Mitt is very conversant on those points.”
Mitt Romney’s campaign has decided upon a rather novel approach to winning the presidency. It has taken a smart and highly qualified but largely colorless candidate and made him exquisitely one-dimensional: All-Business Man, the world’s most boring superhero.
Excuse me? “smart and highly qualified?” Then why did he run Massachusetts practically into the ground in four short years? Romney’s closest campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens compares Romney as candidate to Michael Vick as quarterback.
Among Stevens’s colorful analogies, the unlikeliest is one in which he compares Romney to Michael Vick, the dynamic quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. “Michael Vick’s not a real good pocket guy,” Stevens told me. “So don’t tell him he can’t roll out. Try to make him the best rollout guy that’s ever played.” And indeed, Romney’s staff has endeavored to focus the campaign on his strengths, which are decidedly the opposite of Vick’s. So instead of letting their quarterback roam and improvise, they’re keeping him tightly contained in the business-centric pocket, hoping to God that he does not stray from it.
That’s a pretty unfortunate comparison, considering Romney’s history of cruelty his family dog.
Draper does suggest that Mitt’s biggest problem, as I indicated above, is that he has very poor social skills. He comes off as embarrassingly awkward when he tries to act like a normal human being.
The chief vulnerability of the Romney campaign resides with the understandable decision to keep their anti-Michael Vick in the pocket, thereby limiting our view of the man. Those who at close range watched Romney’s failure to close the deal in 2008 did not witness a rejection per se. Instead, it appeared that Republican voters could not quite envision this decent, clever and socially uneasy fellow governing their country — as opposed to, say, managing their stock portfolios. Stories of Romney’s wooden people skills are legion. “The Mormon’s never going to win the who-do-you-want-to-have-a-beer-with contest,” concedes one adviser, while another acknowledges, “He’s never had the experience of sitting in a bar, and like, talking.”
I never bought the idea that the best president is someone you can talk with over a beer, but seriously, Romney is so divorced from real American culture that he couldn’t begin to identify with working- and middle-class people. He should never, ever be President. And since he could possibly beat Obama, I don’t want him to be nominated anyway.
So that leaves Newt Gingrich. According to a PPP poll taken on Monday night, Gingrich’s numbers are “still rising.”
Last night we went into the field in Florida and Montana- we’ll have the results of those polls out tomorrow after another night of calls but the early indications are that Newt Gingrich will have a double digit lead in both states- he has not peaked yet and is still on an upward curve.
If Herman Cain really ends up dropping out of the race Gingrich’s surge should continue in the next few weeks, unless/until something starts happening to erode his popularity. Why? Because Cain’s supporters absolutely love Gingrich. And they absolutely hate Mitt Romney.
Our last national survey found that Gingrich’s favorability with Cain voters was 73/21. Meanwhile Romney’s was 33/55. That’s the same basic trend we’ve seen in every Republican primary poll we’ve done in the month of November.
So as voters desert Cain, they’re going to Gingrich. Once Cain drops out, Gingrich’s poll numbers will continue to improve. Will Romney even be able to maintain his 25% base?
Also from PPP: Gingrich up big in Florida and Montana
Newt Gingrich’s momentum is continuing to build, and he now leads Mitt Romney by over 25 points in both Florida and Montana.
In Florida Gingrich is at 47% to 17% for Romney, 15% for Herman Cain, 5% for Ron Paul, 4% for Michele Bachmann, 3% for Jon Huntsman, 2% for Rick Perry, 1% for Rick Santorum, and 0% for Gary Johnson.
In Montana Gingrich is at 37% to 12% for Paul, 11% for Romney, 10% for Bachmann and Cain, 5% for Perry, 3% for Huntsman, and 1% for Johnson and Santorum.
These two states really exemplify one of the key emerging trends in the Republican race- Gingrich isn’t just rising, Romney’s also falling. His 17% in Florida is down 13 points from 30% when we polled the state in late September. His 11% in Montana is down 11 points from 22% when we polled the state in June.
I know the election is nearly a year away, but can Romney turn it around? Of course it’s always a good possibility that Gingrich will do or say something so outrageous that he turns even Republican voters off. But to show how serious Gingrich is taking this, his campaign has finally opened an office in Iowa.
Yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor asked: Is Mitt Romney nomination really inevitable anymore? Time will tell, I guess.
That’s all I have for today except for a shameless plug. Today is a special day for me. Here’s a hint: