Pew Survey: Romney’s Favorables Improve

Former MA Gov. Mitt Romney, who hasn’t ruled out another bid for the Republican presidential nomination in ’12, got some encouragement from a new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press 6/10-14, in which his favorable ratings have shot up since he ended his ’08 bid for the GOP nod.

Among self-described conservatives as well as moderate-to-liberal Republicans, Romney’s favorable rating rose nine percentage points each since a Pew poll conducted last February. Conservative Republicans now give Romney a 61% favorable rating (18% have an unfavorable opinion) while 52% of moderate-to-liberal Republicans rate favorably (and 19% rate him unfavorably). Among all Republicans, Romney had a 57% favorable rating and an 18% unfavorable mark.

“Romney’s rise is probably due in part to Republicans are being true to form and rallying behind the candidate who came in second,” said GOP lobbyist Cesar Conda who was a policy adviser to Romney in 2008.

(Some may quibble with Conda and note that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was the last man standing against Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the 2008 GOP contest, but Romney did capture more primaries and caucuses.)

“And as the economy continues to struggle, maybe Republicans are warming up to Romney’s ‘turnaround artist’ attributes,” added Conda referring to Romney’s comfort with economic issues dating back to his days as a head of the investment firm Bain Capital.

“His profile has matured nicely, largely as the result of his willingness to focus on helping rebuild the party as well as focus on substantive issues,” explained strategic communications consultant Kevin Madden, who was national press spokesman for Romney’s 2008 campaign. “Also, the current matrix of issues and challenges facing the country are ones that he has an identifiable record of success on, namely the economy, health care, budget reform and the need for fiscal accountability.”

But Romney isn’t at the top of the GOP pile yet. The same poll [taken before Palin’s resignation as governor of Alaska] showed that AK Gov. Sarah Palin had a stronger favorable rating among Republicans, 73%. But Palin remains a very polarizing figure among the electorate as a whole–45% of those surveyed by Pew have a favorable view of her and 44% have an unfavorable view. Romney has a lower 40% favorable rating among the entire electorate, but also a much smaller 28% unfavorable rating–down from 44% last February.

One reason for that drop is that Romney has made his most significant gains among self-identified independents: 44% now view him favorably compared to 25% who view him unfavorably. Last February those numbers were practically flipped when just 29% of independents viewed him favorably and 46% viewed him unfavorably.