A new Pew survey finds that Romney’s comments last week went over very poorly:
Even among Romney’s partisans, only 58% approved of Romney’s comments, and in every other group approval was quite low and rarely was above 30%. Among those following the news very closely, just 34% approved of his comments, and that figure drops to 17% with those that weren’t paying as much attention. That difference is a bit surprising, since I assumed that people not paying close attention would be more willing to believe that Romney’s response was not that bad. Whether the negative reaction to Romney’s remarks last week will have much of an effect on anyone’s voting preferences remains to be seen, but it is striking that so few of the people that might be expected to rally behind Romney approved of what he said.
I expected the public reaction to be mostly negative, but I also thought it likely that almost all Romney supporters would end up approving of his remarks. Because there was so much emphasis in conservative media that criticism of Romney on this matter was the product of some sort of nefarious media conspiracy, it would have made sense if his supporters accepted the most favorable interpretation of what Romney did. Instead, just over half of those supporters like what they saw or heard from his last week.
If the purpose of Romney’s clumsy, dishonest effort to insert himself into the story last week was intended to demonstrate leadership qualities and impress the public with his response, it utterly failed. It’s important to remember that it failed primarily because what Romney was trying to use falsehoods to exploit a crisis for his own gain. Incredibly, some movement conservatives have gone so far as to claim that his press conference last Wednesday was “the moment Romney won” the election. Whatever else it was, it was definitely not that.