Wallsten: “[Romney] ranked last when Republican voters were asked which of the top-tier GOP candidates were ‘best at saying what they believe, rather than saying what they think the voters want to hear'”
“WASHINGTON — With a massive marketing effort, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has tried to introduce himself as a family man with a solid marriage, five wholesome sons and the moral values desired by the Republican Party’s most conservative voters,” writes Peter Wallsten, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, in a story titled Authenticity is Romney’s biggest hurdle, poll suggests
But now that voters have met him, many are ready to offer an opinion: They still do not know who he is.
Some voters are holding Romney’s Mormon heritage against him, rivals and supporters of Romney acknowledge. But a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll shows that his deeper problem is not his adherence to a faith that many conservative evangelicals view with skepticism.
Instead, Romney has not overcome a record of shifting views on abortion and other social issues. His failure to present a clear picture of his faith and its role in his life appears to be just one part of a broader challenge: proving to GOP voters that he is being straightforward with them.
Romney’s predicament is underscored in the new poll, which found that he ranked last when Republican voters were asked which of the top-tier GOP candidates were “best at saying what they believe, rather than saying what they think the voters want to hear.”
Just 8 percent said Romney was best at saying what he believes, compared with 18 percent for Rudolph W. Giuliani, the national front-runner, and 20 percent for Mike Huckabee, who has sprung from near obscurity to a leading position in Iowa.
Although Romney has scheduled a speech for Thursday in Texas to address questions of faith, the new survey suggests that the broader authenticity question is more damaging to his candidacy than religion itself.
Some 13 percent of Republican voters in the Times/Bloomberg poll said Romney’s Mormon faith made them less likely to vote for him, including 8 percent who said it made them “much less likely” to do so.
But 10 percent said Romney’s religion made it more likely they would support him. And 73 percent said it made no difference.
“The religion part has never bothered me,” said poll respondent Jenelle Pritchard, 43, a school administrator from Omaha, Neb., who is an observant Catholic and has decided to support Huckabee. “But with Romney, I really don’t know where he stands. You can transform yourself, but why are you transforming yourself?” … etc.
The emphases are ours, all ours. Conclusion: The Romney bubble—as in market bubble—has burst. Note how the journalists are not asking if Romney’s support is weak, but why.
For more on this theme see:
Selzer: “What people don’t seem to realize is that Romney’s support has been pretty soft all along—Romney was sort of there by default. He spent a lot of money. He got a lot of attention—He has many of the appearances of a good candidate and a good president, except that when people really think about it, there’s someone else they’d rather have”