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Conversation Nation / CONVERSATION NATION

Conversation Nation: Negative Talk Dogs Romney

The weekly poll shows Obama with 17-point edge in positive versus negative talk.

photo of Rebecca Kaplan
October 3, 2012

Mitt Romney appears to still be suffering a negative backlash from the release of a secretly-recorded video that showed him calling 47 percent of the country dependent "victims" who would never take responsibility for their lives. National Journal’s Conversation Nation poll shows him sustaining record high levels of negative talk that spiked after the comments were released to the public on Sept. 17 and 18.

As Romney’s negative talk has peaked at roughly 52 percent, his positive talk has continued to slide down to 23 percent.

President Obama, on the other hand, continued on an upward trend of positive talk, according to the weekly poll ending Sept. 30 conducted with the Keller Fay market research firm. Positive talk about the president has risen 15 percent since mid-August, and he currently enjoys a 17-point edge in positive versus negative talk.

 

Part of the reason for the president’s positive edge may be that more conversations about him tend to center on why people like him as a candidate and want to vote for him. Romney still comes up in conversation more when people talk about their dislike for him as a candidate, not wanting to vote for him, or disagreeing with him on certain issues.

The increasingly clear trends in positive and negative talk come as more Americans appear to be tuning into the election. Twenty-seven percent of adults surveyed have daily conversations about the president and his job performance, a five percent increase from earlier in the summer. Twenty-five percent of respondents also talk about the national elections every day, a nine-point bump from a few months ago.

Talk about the national elections has increased the most among people over 60, those with a college or postgraduate education, and Democrats, which may account for the increasingly positive talk about the president. There was also a spike in discussions about Obama during the middle of last week, which coincided with his clear emergence as the leader in polls of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He also appeared on the daytime talk show The View, which may have driven up positive talk.

Vice President Joe Biden is still the subject of more negative than positive talk, by a margin of 24 percentage points. The poll was conducted before he commented that the middle class has been “buried” the last four years, which Republicans were quick to identify as a result of the administration’s economic policies.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate, also still is the subject of more negative than positive talk, but his negatives have dropped sharply last week, from 59 percent to 50 percent negative.

Infographic

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.

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