One of the big arguments about what will hold Mitt Romney back in the 2012 election against Barack Obama has been his favorability rating. He was the least likable candidate in 30 years, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll just more than a month ago.
Well, that argument is gone. Romney’s favorability rating has jumped incrementally since February to an even 50 per cent, a new Gallup poll shows today. He’s basically on par with Obama at 52 per cent, and it’s his best-ever rating.
And when looking in context at his unfavorability ratings, Romney is actually viewed in a more positive light than Obama. Romney has a net favorability rating of plus-nine (41 per cent view him unfavorably). Obama stands at plus-six (46 per cent unfavorability).
Last month, Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor in chief, told Business Insider that although Romney’s favorability rating was extremely low for a presumptive nominee, it would likely increase in the coming months.
But that shift has already come, quicker than expected. Early on in the 1992 election, Bill Clinton was stuck at a 37 per cent favorability rating. That changed over time, as well.
Romney still stands at a lower rate than a lot of past presumptive nominees. Among similar nominees facing incumbents, John Kerry in 2004 had a plus-34 favorability rating, and Bob Dole in 1996 had a plus-22 favorability rating.
Obama’s favorability rating relatively compares to the past two presidents when their challengers were decided. Clinton stood at 58 per cent in March 1996, and George W. Bush had a 56 per cent favorability rating in 2004.
Gallup’s Jeff Jones offers this in his analysis:
The 2012 election could match two of the least well-liked candidates in recent elections, in contrast to the 2008 election, in which Obama and McCain were two of the most well-liked.
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