It's always good for political junkies to remind ourselves that the rest of the public doesn't think about politics nearly as much as we do, and therefore their opinions are far less rooted and far more likely to change with the arrival of new information. If you're a TAP reader, you had an opinion about Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich a year ago, and your opinion today is probably pretty much the same as it was then. It may have intensified a bit, and there may be new things you think of when you think of those two, but it's unlikely that you've shifted from disliking them to liking them, or vice-versa. But that's not the case for most Americans, who in recent months have been subjected to all kinds of new information about the Republican candidates. And guess what: they don't much like what they see.
Take a gander at this new Washington Post/ABC News poll. Mitt Romney's unfavorable ratings have increased 15 points just in the last few weeks. He's now viewed unfavorably by 58 percent of the public, a number even higher than the perpetually disliked Newt Gingrich, who comes in at 55 percent disapproval. In fact, opinions of him have fallen among Republicans, Democrats, and most of all, independents:
Granted, this is just one poll, and it could be some kind of anomaly. But I doubt it. This campaign still has a ways to go, and there will undoubtedly be ups and downs in the months ahead. But in ideal circumstances, the primaries are a chance for the public to get to know you, learn all about your positive attributes, and see you displaying strength, courage, and wisdom. On the other hand, they can be an opportunity for everyone to learn why you're unlikeable.
Meanwhile, tonight Barack Obama will go on TV and talk all about how to make the economy work for regular people, while the rest of the discussion in the news media is about how Mitt Romney made $21 million in 2010 and paid only 13.9 percent in taxes. Think they're happy about how the campaign is going in Obama headquarters in Chicago?