After his personal popularity saw a resurgence almost immediately after he wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney’s favorability rating has plateaued at a historically low level, according to a new poll released Wednesday.
According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 40 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of Romney — virtually identical to the 41 percent high-water mark that his favorability rating reached in the ABC/WaPo survey from late May. Compounding matters for the presumptive Republican nominee: the percentage of the public who view him unfavorably has jumped from 45 percent to 49 percent. Romney’s standing is even lower among independents, with only 37 percent of the bellwether voting bloc viewing him favorably compared with 50 percent who view him unfavorably.
Romney’s 40 percent favorability mark represents the lowest midsummer personal popularity rating for a presumptive presidential nominee dating back to 1948. Perhaps Romney’s only solace is that former President George H.W. Bush nursed a comparable 41 percent favorability rating at a similar point in 1988. Bush, of course, went on to comfortably win the presidential election that year — although he wasn’t facing an incumbent.
The former Massachusetts governor has been plagued by low favorability ratings throughout the 2012 campaign, but it wasn’t long ago when it looked like his personal appeal was recovering. After Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid in April, Romney’s favorability rating grew, seemingly a sign that his low popularity was due in large part to a bruising Republican nomination contest. But that resurgence has tapered off this summer. This trend is illustrated by the PollTracker Average, which shows 40.1 percent view Romney favorably compared with 49.6 percent who view him unfavorably.
The ABC/WaPo poll might serve as an indication that Romney’s favorability rating has reached its ceiling and that the attacks being levied by President Barack Obama’s campaign are beginning to stick. Obama, conversely, is viewed more positively than negatively. The president is viewed favorably by 53 percent of Americans, while 43 percent view him unfavorably. Critically, Obama’s image suffers no dip among independents. Fifty-three percent of independents view Obama favorably, compared with 40 percent who view him unfavorably.
The ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted August 1-5 using live phone interviews with 1,026 American adults. Results have a margin of error of four percentage points.
Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.