The Merit of Being Mild
Maybe milquetoast is working for Mitt Romney.
According to a new Pew Research Center survey out Thursday, the former Massachusetts governor is in a dead heat with President Obama in a 2012 general election matchup, with each man taking 48 percent of the vote. But when respondents were asked whether their vote was more about their favored candidate or the other candidate, the poll showed that Romney's uncontroversial style is offending few voters and positioning him to defeat a weakened incumbent president.
In the matchup with Romney, a third of voters -- and more than two thirds of Obama supporters -- say their vote is more a vote for Obama than against Romney. Among Romney supporters, an equal number say their vote is more of a vote against Obama than for Romney.
But only 11 percent of voters -- less than a quarter of Obama supporters -- say their vote is more of a vote against Romney. In a matchup against Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- in which Obama leads, 50 percent to 46 percent -- 15 percent of voters say their vote is more of an anti-Perry vote.
According to past Pew polls, it is not unusual for the campaign to be mainly about the incumbent. That is likely to help Romney or the eventual GOP nominee: Just 43 percent of registered voters approve of the job Obama is doing as president, while a 51-percent majority disapproves.
Romney leads in the Republican primary over Perry, 22 percent to 17 percent, with businessman Herman Cain at 13 percent and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, at 12 percent. But the poll was conducted over a 12-day period, and the movement over time shows Perry slipping and Cain rising as time elapsed.