The polling data continues to turn against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. A series of polls have shown President Obama pulling away both nationally, and in the important swing states that will decide the election. Now, Mitt Romney’s weak favorability numbers have reached a new low. Romney now has a lower favorability rating than former President George W. Bush, who many still blame for the bad economy.
Bush has gained a little ground recently in the favorability department, while Romney has remained relatively weak. Romney has been one of the least favorable candidates of the recent era. The former Massachusetts governor has had trouble connecting with voters on a personal level. This is in stark contrast with President Obama, who ranks highly with voters on a likability scale.
There are several issues dragging Mitt Romney down. One of the biggest factors is that the Obama campaign has been on the attack since before Romney had even locked up the Republican nomination. They viewed him as the biggest threat long ago, and have done a good job of defining him before he had a chance to define himself.
Romney’s massive wealth has also been weighing him down. At times he seems out of touch with ordinary Americans. This is the same problem that has plagued many other candidates in the past, including 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry, and former President George H. W. Bush. Romney has also refused to release more than two years of tax returns, a practice common among presidential candidates. This secrecy has left many thinking he has something to hide, and has only increased distrust of the candidate.
We may also be seeing a large scale change in the electorate. Most pundits believed President Obama would be extremely vulnerable this year, yet he has never trailed significantly in the polls. There has been no massive economic growth lately to explain this, only the same slow growth we have had for most of his presidency. The answer may be that voters have finally turned against the cut taxes/regulation mantra of the Republican Party.
Voters seem reluctant to embrace Romney’s economic plan, which consists of an across the board 20% tax cut, on top of an extension of the Bush tax cuts. After the economic collapse that occurred at the end of Bush’s presidency, the American people do not seem ready to give that philosophy another chance. The GOP may have to deal with a new reality where their 30 year old message is no longer acceptable. They may have to come up with a new strategy.
Barring a major event that changes the race, we appear headed for an Obama re-election. If that happens, Republicans will have to do some major soul searching. The demographics of the country are changing, and many Republican policies line them against these changing demographics. If the GOP sticks to its current principles, it will become a non factor in American politics. Those that fail to evolve become extinct.