The Wall Street Journal:
Can Mitt Romney pull a Bill Clinton? Can he go from generally disliked to well liked, all in a few months? His political fate may hinge on it.* Enlace relacionado: El front-runner al que nadie quiere (caso Clinton)
Lots of factors determine presidential elections: mood of the country, approval rating of the incumbent, ups or downs of the economy, general competence and appeal of the challenger.
Several of those are now tipping in Mr. Romney’s favor as he remains neck and neck with President Barack Obama with about four months to go.
But here’s one generalization that holds true, election after election: Candidates who aren’t well-liked don’t win. And better-liked candidates beat lesser-liked ones.
And for now, Mr. Romney remains the least liked challenger since, well, Mr. Clinton at this point in 1992.
For decades, Wall Street Journal’s pollsters have asked Americans to rank their feelings toward a candidate on a thermometer scale from very positive to very negative, with neutral being a middle option. The measure of a candidate’s likability is whether his positives are higher than his negatives, and by what margin.
At this point, Mr. Romney is now minus six percentage points on the thermometer scale, meaning that 33% view him positively and 39% negatively—about where Mr. Clinton was going into the summer of 1992.
But by late October 1992, just weeks before the election, Mr. Clinton had pulled off an extraordinary transformation. His favorable ratings had skyrocketed. Over half of Americans viewed him positively, while just over a third viewed him negatively. That’s pretty much where Mr. Obama stood in October 2008.
(...) So how did Mr. Clinton do it? He started his abrupt climb in June with a round of extended town halls and by yucking it up on late-night TV, including a saxophone solo on the Arsenio Hall show. That July he got the biggest convention bounce in modern political history, followed by a five –day bus tour with his new vice-presidential pick, Al Gore.
His likability rating leapt and he never looked back. Meanwhile, his rival, President George H.W. Bush, saw his favorable rating plunge into deeply negative terrain.
Mr. Romney and Mr. Clinton are very different politicians. The vast sums now poured into negative political ads also make it tougher to woo skeptics to your side than was the case in 1992.
Mr. Romney still has time, even if he has to wait until his party’s convention in late August, and his debate face-offs with Mr. Obama later in the fall.
“For 70% of the country, most of the campaign boils down to the conventions and the debates, so Romney will have his big opportunities then,” said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducts polls for The Wall Street Journal.