Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s gaffe-filled foreign trip did some political damage stateside, according to a poll from Conversation Nation, a joint project of National Journal and the survey research firm Keller Fay Group.
Negative conversations about the presumptive GOP nominee spiked at the end of last week, after Romney’s criticism of Britain’s handling of security at the Summer Olympics in London. The survey, which tracks word-of-mouth discussions among adults, found that on Sunday, 49 percent of conversations about Romney were negative, a 7 percentage-point spike from the previous day’s tracking. The survey works on a three-day rolling average.
Over the course of last week, 45 percent of word-of-mouth discussions about Romney were mostly negative while only 27 percent were positive. Discussions about President Obama, meanwhile, were split evenly at 40 percent.
It was the second consecutive week people have spoken critically of the former Massachusetts governor and likely GOP presidential nominee. And it came as more people began focusing on him: According to the most recent data in the survey, nearly as many adults now discuss Romney, 27.6 percent, as Obama, 35.4 percent. The gap in conversations about the two men has shrunk steadily as the presidential race has worn on.
Before his trip to London, Romney was on the defensive from a barrage of questions over when he left the Bain Capital private-equity company he founded and why he has not released multiple years of his tax returns. The criticism had an effect: Since the project’s tracking of word-of-mouth conversations began on July 2, 37 percent of discussions about the Republican White House hopeful have been negative. For Obama, the number is 33 percent.
There’s also evidence that Obama’s ad campaign, which has focused on Romney’s tax returns and business career, have taken a toll. Twenty-six percent of negative conversations about the candidate were prompted by an ad. Negative conversations about Obama were prompted by ads 21 percent of the time.
National Journal and Keller Fay Group, a survey research firm, have partnered to track Americans’ online and face-to-face conversations about the 2012 presidential race. Each week Keller Fay’s TalkTrack® research service interviews a nationally representative online sample of approximately 615 Americans ages 18-69, to determine which candidates and issues people are talking about and the nature of those conversations. Ed Keller and Brad Fay are coauthors of The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace.