Who is Mitt Romney? Via Meadia has been watching Romney for some time, but we feel like we still don’t know him. And it seems we’re not alone in this assessment: according to the latest Gallup poll, Barack Obama holds a near two-to-one advantage (60-31) when voters are asked to name which candidate is more likable.Also worrying for the Romney campaign is that more Democrats like Obama (89-6) than Republicans like Romney (61-28). Base motivation is always an important factor in an election, and right now Republicans are far less enamored with their man than the Democrats are with theirs.How concerned should the Romney camp be with the results of this survey? Gallup warns:
[V]oters usually elect the candidate they like more. In each of the last five presidential elections, the candidate whose basic favorable rating was higher won the election each time.
The good news for Romney is that it’s not yet Memorial Day, and there are still nearly six months before voters go to the polls. Apart from the political junkies who paid close attention to the Republican primaries, most Americans have not devoted much thought to an Obama/Romney showdown. This gives Romney time to define himself as voters begin to tune in over the coming months. His advisers would do well to let their candidate begin to reveal more of himself—explain why he’s running, what animates him, what sort of a person he is.Americans care about more than a candidate’s stance on The Issues. Some political wonks and good government types think this is a bad thing and deplore the way many people vote on their gut feeling about candidates.Actually, it strikes me that voting on “the issues” is sometimes the dumber choice. So many issues come up in the course of a presidential term and so much of what happens can’t be predicted in advance that it makes a certain amount of sense to vote for the person rather than the platform.But whether or not this is a smart way to vote, in the real world it is the way many Americans do vote, and Mitt Romney has to figure out how he can make a stronger personal impression on undecided voters.It isn’t an easy problem to solve. One senses that Romney is more George H. W. Bush than Bill Clinton; he comes from a world where privacy is valued and where sharing can seem like showing off. And one way that candidates bond with voters is through religion; even for voters who don’t have a problem with Mormonism, their ignorance of the faith and the world of Mormon religious institutions and charities means that Romney’s achievements and endeavors in this world don’t mean much.Add to that the way that Governor Romney’s political persona has changed over the years (or ‘evolved’, to use a term much in vogue at the moment), and it is not surprising that for many voters he seems to be a hard man to know.It will be interesting to see how the candidate and the campaign work to project Romney to the voters as more than a resume and a good suit. They have a long way to go — but the campaign is still young. (sigh)