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Obama Favorability Lower Than 4 Predecessors

From ABC News:

Low Favorability Trails Romney Up to the Convention Dais

By Gary Langer | Tues August 28, 2012

Mitt Romney accepts the Republican nomination for president this week with the lowest personal popularity of any major-party nominee in polls dating to Ronald Reagan’s presidency, a difficulty for Romney that’s persisted throughout this election cycle.

Forty percent of registered voters in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll see Romney favorably overall, while 51 percent rate him unfavorably – 11 points underwater in this basic measure, with a majority unfavorable score for just the second time in polls since last fall.

And never mind that ABC and Langer Research Associates even admit (a pdf file) that they oversampled Democrats by 7%. (Though we are never given the actual party affiliation breakdown.)

Barack Obama does better in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, but hardly well – 50-47 percent in favorable vs. unfavorable views among registered voters, essentially the same as his 2012 average in ABC/Post polls. On this, as on other measures, as hard as they’ve campaigned, views of the two hardly have budged.

Romney’s favorability rating is the lowest of any major-party nominee at roughly the time of his convention in available data back to 1984; indeed he’s the first, at this stage of the campaign, to be rated more unfavorably than favorably by a significant margin.

For the record, ABC never produces any documentation to substantiate this claim.

On the other hand, Obama’s net favorable rating is substantially lower than the four previous incumbents’ (Reagan, both Bushes and Bill Clinton) at this point.

So why isn’t this the headline and the lead for this report? Isn’t this more of a surprise, since Americans know a lot more about Mr. Obama than they do about Mr. Romney?

(Just kidding. We know why ABC buried this detail.)

One previous candidate in this period had a favorability rating as low as Obama’s and went on to win the presidency – George H.W. Bush in 1988. (Bush’s unfavorability rating was lower than Obama’s, with more undecided.)

And just like Mitt Romney, not that many people were familiar with GHW Bush at this point in 1988.

None has won with favorability as low as Romney’s, increasing the pressure for him to develop more of a personal connection with the electorate, perhaps starting with his acceptance speech Thursday night.

Favorability is a broader concept than simple likeability, a measure in which Obama far surpasses Romney; it also reflects empathy, a sense that the candidate understands the problems of average Americans…

It also reflects the fact that if you admit you don’t like Barack Obama you are immediately branded a racist.

Romney is seen favorably by just 35 percent of independents who are registered to vote, numerically a low since March (albeit not significantly different from its level earlier this month). Obama’s favorability rating among independents is 9 points higher than Romney’s; nonetheless in a separate ABC/Post poll released Monday the two were about even among independents in vote preference, 47-43 percent, Romney-Obama, indicating that favorability is one factor in candidate support, but not in and of itself determinative.

In other words, this ABC poll contradicts another ABC poll from just two days ago. By the way, notice that ABC calls this four point lead "almost even."

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, August 29th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

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