It’s always useful to have the proper context when evaluating the popularity of a presidential candidate. Otherwise, it’s hard to know if you’re looking at a deviation, or the usual pattern. Mitt Romney’s high unfavorables are unusual, for example, but the real question is how unusual? To that end, Talking Points Memo has a chart comparing the favorability of presidential candidates over the last decade:
As it turns out, Mitt Romney isn’t just kind of unpopular for a presidential candidate in the February before the election, he’s extremely unpopular, to a degree that’s unprecedented in recent memory. The key question for his campaign—and the Republican Party writ large, if he wins the nomination—is whether he can recover by the fall. After all, even with a united party, it’s hard to see how anyone could turn these numbers around.