The wealthy, privileged Mormon is hardly a great image for a presidential candidate. However, neither is the image on the Kenyan-American product of affirmative action.


Nate Silver of 538 (New York Times) has a detailed analysis of the effects of Roney’s image on his chances to be elected.  Here are the last three paragraphs:

The most sensible takeaways, I think, are as follows:

1) Mr. Romney’s mediocre favorability ratings at this early stage of the race are no death sentence. There have been clear reversals in favorability ratings in the recent past once the general election campaign got under way, such as in 1988 and 1992. At least one recent candidate (Mr. Clinton in 1992) won his election with similarly mediocre early favorability ratings. With that said, it would be foolish to suggest that this makes no difference at all. Mr. Romney would prefer to have a positive rating than a negative one. For that matter, Mr. Obama would prefer to have a clearly positive favorability rating than break-even numbers.

2) The favorability deficit between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama is more likely to be meaningful the longer it persists. If, for instance, we still see this favorability deficit in July — and certainly if we see it in September or October — the odds are fairly good that Mr. Obama will perform more strongly than the economic fundamentals alone would dictate and could win an election that he is otherwise “supposed” to lose. Of course, this will probably be reflected in head-to-head polls between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney, which also become stronger predictors of the election outcome as November draws nearer.

My guess, for what it’s worth, is that we will see some improvement in Mr. Romney’s favorability numbers over the next month or two. It has not been uncommon in the past for a candidate’s numbers to decline while he is actively engaged in a primary, but for him to go through a honeymoon period once he begins to wrap up the nomination.

We’ll have a better sense for where Mr. Romney’s numbers are likely to settle in, and whether they represent a real concern for him or just a transient annoyance, once the general election campaign has become more substantive a couple of months from now. For the time being, I’d consider them a negative but fairly minor factor when we evaluate his chances at victory.

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