What Mitt Romney Seems to Believe (and Why He's so Disliked): Can you read this and not weep for the conservative cause and for America?
Conason – 21 hrs ago
With the Republican primary
contest over and the general election underway, Mitt Romney faces a voting public whose
disdain for him has reached levels that pollsters describe as "historic." From
his embittered opponents as well as from Romney and his campaign, Americans have
learned that the former Massachusetts governor simply won't uphold any political
position, issue or achievement he thinks might cost him votes. He doesn't seem
to understand that his inconstancy forfeits more respect than any disagreeable
No matter how carefully the former
Massachusetts governor parses and prevaricates, many voters, including more than
a few conservatives, evidently feel they've detected the inner Mitt: a man with
utmost regard for himself and people like him — and a profound disregard for
people like most of them. They've observed him straining to express concern for
the unemployed, the poor and the powerless, while sounding sincerely resentful
whenever the privileged are held accountable. They've perceived an attitude of
entitlement, whether he is withholding tax returns, defending tax breaks for
billionaires or spending vast amounts to defame opponents. And they don't like
it, no matter what they may feel about Barack Obama.
Although a new Gallup poll shows Romney
with a small lead matched against Obama — indicating how close this election may
ultimately become — voters consistently appear to disapprove of the presumptive
Republican nominee. As they have learned more about him over the past several
years, his negative ratings have soared. Over the past five years, since he
began to run for president, the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that
negative views of Romney have roughly doubled, from about 24 percent to 47
percent, while his positive ratings have lagged (only 12 percent express
"strongly" positive feelings about him).
More important, Romney polls 21 points
behind President Obama in public approval — the worst rating for a likely
presidential nominee in a Post/ABC poll since 1984. Indeed, he is the first to
be "underwater," with higher negative than positive ratings, in the last eight
Vulnerable groups seem to find Romney
particularly unappealing and unsympathetic, as the Post/ABC cross-tabulations
suggest. Among voters with annual household incomes lower than $50,000, Obama
leads by 29 points. Among the young, who now tend to be in debt, without jobs or
both, Obama leads by 36 points. Among married women, Obama is ahead by 20
points. But among unmarried women, his lead grows to 45 points.
Obama's favorable score is 9 points higher
than Romney's among married adults — but this swells to a 37-point advantage
among those who are not married. Romney and Obama are seen favorably by about
equal numbers of married men, and Obama's unfavorable score is higher in this
group. But he jumps to a 20-point higher favorable rating than Romney among
married women, 25 points among unmarried men, and 45 points among unmarried
women. Overall, Obama is seen not only as more likeable and friendly but as more
understanding of the economic conditions faced by most Americans.
The latest CNN poll gives the president a
substantial lead over his likely challenger, reflecting the same advantage for
Obama among low-income, female and young voters. But all those surveyed felt
that Obama was far more likely to stand up for his beliefs than Romney and to
sympathize with those less fortunate and less powerful.
Evidently, Romney hopes to bury Obama
beneath a barrage of negative advertising, with at least $800 million that his
party expects to raise from wealthy conservatives like him. But that won't erase
the lasting impression created by a primary campaign that left Americans with a
bad impression of the Republican Party and a worse impression of the nominee
that process selected so grudgingly.
Joe Conason is the editor in chief of
NationalMemo.com. To find out more about Joe Conason, visit the Creators
Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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