Political Animal


April 11, 2012 8:45 AM Snapshot of Romney’s Problem

By Ed Kilgore

Team Romney is walking tall today after Rick Santorum’s withdrawal from the presidential race. But a new Public Policy Polling survey of Colorado, high on everyone’s “battleground state” list, shows the problem Romney faces going forward in dealing with intraparty and general election challenges.

Colorado was one of several swing and even traditionally red states that President Obama flipped in 2008—and if his re-election bid were decided today, there would be no looking back. He would actually defeat likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney by an even larger margin than he did John McCain four years ago. McCain lost by nine points in the Centennial State, and Romney trails by 13 in PPP’s latest poll.
Obama’s 53-40 lead over Romney here is up 11 points from only a two-point edge when PPP last polled the state only four months ago.
The story in Colorado is the same as everywhere: the president has seen his popularity rise in the last few months, while the dragging GOP primary contest has sunk their candidates’ personal numbers. Romney’s favorability rating is still the best of the Republicans’ except Paul’s, but he sits at 31% favorable and 60% unfavorable, down from 35-53 in the previous poll. Meanwhile, 50% approve and 47% disapprove of Obama’s job performance, up eight points on the margin from early December (45-50).

Looking at the crosstabs makes it clear Romney can’t just spend the next few months tending to the tender feelings of party conservatives who supported one of his rivals (Rick Santorum beat him in the CO caucuses in February). Romney’s approval/disapproval ratio among self-identified “very conservative” voters is 45/35, which shows significant room for likely improvement as the general election gets nearer. But his 31/61 ratio among self-identified moderates is a bigger problem that won’t just solve itself. Meanwhile, any efforts to deal with the former group of voters could make it harder to appeal to the other.

Similarly, PPP shows Romney with a mediocre 56/36 favorable/unfavorable ratio among Republicans. That will improve. But he’s at 25/65 among independents, which is, in a word, disastrous.

Mitt’s got his work cut out for him. And he’s not the sort of guy who’s going to make up ground on the sheer force of his personality.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Danp on April 11, 2012 9:05 AM:

    All the Republican candidates used the strategy of slamming their opponents, and most especially Obama. It's not working, and whenever they propose a policy, it gets worse: contraception, Iran, deficit paranoia, diminishing safety nets, etc. The have absolutely no vision for a better country. Just rhetorical pleas for undefined ideals.

  • jomo on April 11, 2012 9:13 AM:

    I would also add that the increase - both in numbers and in anti-Republican intensity - of Hispanics in Colorado and other Southwest swing states such as NM and even AZ will definitely work to Obama's benefit.

  • T2 on April 11, 2012 9:13 AM:

    Romney finally gets the nomination, topping what everyone, including Republicans, consider the weakest field in modern history. Mitt must be very proud. But his problems going forward include the fact that he is Mitt Romney. He is proudly very wealthy, unavoidably gaffe-prone, has the stage presence of a prop, has a Mormon's view of womanhood (have babies, wash, cook), and last but not least, is a real, actually flip-flopper/serial liar. Then there is the complete lack of foreign policy experience, a severe detachment from minorities and the less fortunate, limited legislative experience that produced only one real accomplishment and that was the model for ACA (Obamacare).
    Add all that to a need to feed the TeaParty beast morning, noon and night. And did I mention he is a leader in the Mormon Church? The only thing Romney has done correctly in the primaries is keep the Mormon issue completely out of it.

    So, yes Ed, Mitt's got his work cut out for him. Unfortunately for Mitt, he's never really worked.

  • Barn on April 11, 2012 9:18 AM:

    Shouldn't Santorum be forced to carry his candidacy to term? It seems to me he's well past the second trimester.

  • boatboy_srq on April 11, 2012 9:32 AM:

    This is news? GOP candidates can pander to the base to win the primary and lose the election, or pander to the "moderates" and hope that enough diehards vote for them in the primary to GET to the election. Neither is a particularly winning strategy. Romney's only advantage here is that nobody can pin either strategy on him since's he's flipped faster and more often than than tiddlywinks.

    Captcha: purity nciativa. "Native purity" certainly does describe the Reichwing well.

  • ET on April 11, 2012 9:43 AM:

    I am not sure the Romney is a talented enough individual or good enough actor to pull off the balancing act/about face.

    For decades the GOP has patched together this particular coalition but eventually they weren't going to be able to continue because it wasn't a tenable situation. Guess those chickens are coming home to roost.

  • T2 on April 11, 2012 9:43 AM:

    I was reading an article about a religious slanted poll in Virginia, which indicated that Obama's religion (secret Muslim) is a political liability (again). It got me to thinking that pinning Obama with a Religion Problem should be much harder for the Right to accomplish since their nominee will be a Mormon, a religion considered a "cult" by the entire GOP Evangelical "base". Mormon vs. Muslim - interesting race.

  • Grumpy on April 11, 2012 10:00 AM:

    "...if his re-election bid were decided today..."

    Which it isn't, which is why candidates campaign right up until election day. Still, Romney has to know how far behind the starting line he is before the race really begins.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on April 11, 2012 10:53 AM:

    ...he’s not the sort of guy who’s going to make up ground on the sheer force of his personality.

    Mitt will make up that ground thru the sheer force of $$$$$$$! Whether it takes a billion or two or three or four billion, deep pockets will buy all of the airtime during the crucial weeks before the election and destroy the n!gger just like they did in the key primary states to Santorum and Gingrich.

    You will never go broke betting on the stupidity, gullibility, and ease with which the ameriKKKan voter can be convinced to buy worthless products via overwhelmingly massive advertisement.

  • Diane Rodriguez on April 11, 2012 10:55 AM:

    There's a lot of fear, distrust and hate for Obama out there that is just waiting to be fomented. I sincerely hope that I am wrong, but I believe it is much more widespread than these polls show right now. The polls are reflective of the Republican nomination race, which is now over. The degree that Republicans will coalesce around Romney is proportional to the dislike/ distrust/hate for Obama.

    I believe women will be the deciding factor. The damage has already been done by the misogynist screeds of the nomination process and that is not easily forgotten. Obama needs to continue to support the female constituency and assure us of our equality in the eyes of the government. Whether he speaks specifically or not, Romney is colored by the impotence-on-parade of those genitally obsessed Republican Governors and state houses. He can't run from them and still embrace current Republican repressive social philosophy.

  • liam foote on April 11, 2012 11:05 AM:

    The more people learn about Mr. Romney, the lower his approval rating. This has been true since his time as MA governor. In Nov'03 his approval rating was 66-33% which by Nov'06 had been transposed at 34-65%.

  • Ron Byers on April 11, 2012 11:48 AM:

    Colorado is one of the states that has seen a large influx of former Californians as the economy has shifted. Add to that the very high number of Hispanics in the state and suddenly it is very bluish purple.

    Mitt Romney's problems are of Ruppert Murdock's making. Frum was right, but don't tell the Republicans.

  • SadOldVet on April 11, 2012 12:02 PM:

    re Ron Byers...

    Rupert may have exacerbated Mitten's problems, but his problems are virtually all of his own making. Mittens has shown that he is a pathological liar and that is totally independent of Murdock. RMoney is a 1/10 of 1%er and his frequently expressed scorn and distain for the peon classes in totally independent of Murdock.