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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

August 24, 2012 at 9:47 AM

With Republican convention up next, why Mitt Romney is losing when he should be winning

By all traditional measures of a presidential campaign, Mitt Romney should be crushing Barack Obama. But he’s not. Why? The numbers tell the story.

The economy has been stagnant, unemployment is at 8.3%, and the approval ratings of Barack Obama are in the mid to upper-40s. This presidential campaign should not be close. But it is.

In fact,when we look at the realclearpolitics daily average of polls on the presidential race, Mitt Romney has almost never led over the past 18 months. The lines of Obama and Romney support go up and down, sometimes almost crossing. But Obama has been on top consistently for many months.

And this morning, New York Times reporter John Harwood noted that the Romney camp acknowledges they are slightly trailing as we head into the party nominating conventions.

How can that possibly be? A USAToday/Gallup poll out this morning provides a pretty clear answer.

The poll asked just over 1000 U.S. adults a series of questions about whether a particular character attribute or ability to address an issue domain applied more to one presidential candidate than another. Gallup asked about 7 character traits and 7 issue domains.

On all of the character assessments, Obama has the advantage over Romney. The biggest advantages for the president are on the two items that best track with the “Who would you want to share a beer with?” competition that seems to matter so much in American presidential politics. The advantages for Obama are not always huge by any means, but it is striking that Obama leads on all categories.

Shifting these impressions has to be Job One for the Romney campaign in next week’s Republican Party convention.

Gallup also asked about which candidate can do a better job in addressing major issue domains that consume a White House. Again, Gallup asked 7 questions.

On the most important issue of this election, the economy, Romney has a clear advantage of 9 points. He also tops Obama among U.S. adults on the budget deficit. These are impressions that Romney has worked hard to cultivate.

But on the other five issue domains, Obama tops Romney. And most notably among these, over the past month Obama has gone from down by 4 to up 9 on taxes, and from tied to up 9 on health care.

Looking at all of these issue domains, Romney needs to press his advantage on the economy and try to shrink his disadvantage on health care — it is beyond me how Romney is losing on health care even though Obama’s signature health law is not popular — and Medicare. Those seem to be the key issue domains for the remainder of this election.

Next week is the most important of Romney’s campaign. His work is cut out for him.

Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, Gallup, likeability

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