Romney's Speech Gets Low Marks From Voters

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 3 2012 3:01 PM

Romney's RNC Speech Receives Low Marks From Americans

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A couple watches on a giant screen the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivering his acceptance speech at the Tampa Bay Times Forum

Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/GettyImages.

The scores are in for Mitt Romney's RNC speech last week. In short, they don't look so good for the GOP nominee.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Romney's prime-time remarks received positive marks from just 38 percent of respondents in a new Gallup survey, the lowest total of any major party's presidential candidate since the polling outfit began asking the question back after the 1996 Republican National Convention.

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Here were Romney's marks: 20 percent rated the speech "excellent," 18 percent called it "good," 21 percent went the "just okay" route, 6 percent called it "poor," and 10 percent said it was "terrible." The remaining 26 percent either hadn't seen it or had no opinion.

For comparison, John McCain received positive marks from 47 percent of respondents back in 2008. Then-Sen. Barack Obama, meanwhile, cleaned up with "excellent" or "good" marks from 58 percent of those polled, the highest total of the eight speeches surveyed by Gallup.

Gallup's numbers include only five Republican speeches, so we're obviously dealing with a pretty small sample size here. Still, it may be worth pointing out that Republicans have seen fewer and fewer positive marks since the surveys began.

  • Bob Dole in 1996: 52 percent positive (excellent/good); 7 percent negative (poor/terrible).
  • George W. Bush in 2000: 51 percent positive; 4 percent negative.
  • George W. Bush in 2004: 49 percent positive; 8 percent negative.
  • John McCain in 2008: 47 percent positive; 12 percent negative.
  • Mitt Romney in 2012: 38 percent positive; 16 percent negative.

And, fwiw, the Democrats' positive marks have climbed (although we're dealing with an even smaller sample):

  • Al Gore in 2000: 51 percent positive; 6 percent negative.
  • John Kerry in 2004: 52 percent positive; 9 percent negative.
  • Barack Obama in 2008: 58 percent positive; 7 percent negative.

Gallup also shows Romney with the smallest post-convention bounce in recent political history. Forty percent of those polled said they'd be more likely to vote GOP after last week's GOP convention, compared to 38 percent who said they'd be less likely. That 2-percent gain was one of only three among a list going back to 1984 with net gains in the single digits. The other two single-digit bounces: the 2008 (plus-5) and 2004 (plus-3) RNCs. Of course, George W. Bush still went on to win reelection in 2004, so a lackluster convention doesn't necessarily translate to a November loss.

(Note: The Gallup post-convention bounce archives do not include polls for the 1992 or 1984 GOP conventions.)