Mitt Romney in Massachusetts in 2002.
There's some debate about which state counts as Mitt Romney's "home" state, but he was governor of Massachusetts, and that's a state he's going to lose badly. That's not unexpected given the Bay State's political leanings, but I continue to think it's a mistake to dismiss this too quickly.
PPP's newest Presidential poll in Massachusetts finds no change in the race from June. Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney by 16 points, 55-39. [...]
Massachusetts voters simply don't think much of their former Governor. Only 39% of voters have a favorable opinion of Romney to 55% with an unfavorable one. They don't look back on his tenure as chief executive very fondly -- 42% approve of the work he did in that job but 46% disapprove.... Romney can't match the Scott Brown formula for being successful as a Republican in a blue state.
If Romney's elected president, he'll be the first candidate to win the White House while losing his home state since before the Civil War.
Now, the standard response is that Romney's lack of support in Massachusetts is entirely predictable and hardly noteworthy. This is, after all, one of the nation's "bluest" states, and Romney is not only a Republican, but an increasingly far-right one.
But to reiterate what we discussed in May, I still think polls like these are noteworthy. Massachusetts voters are, after all, the only folks in the country who got to see Romney's approach to governing up close -- and they didn't come away impressed.
Indeed, during his 2003-to-2007 tenure, Romney failed to impress much of anyone.
"His favorability was basically a straight line down from his honeymoon," said David Paleologos, director of Suffolk University's Political Research Center and a longtime Massachusetts pollster. "Sometimes familiarity breeds contempt." [...]
Romney entered the Massachusetts State House in January 2003 with a flashy favorability rating of 61 percent.... By November 2004, voters were souring, and a Suffolk poll found his favorable rating had dropped to 47 percent... By November 2006, as he closed out his increasingly absentee term, his overall job approval rating had cratered to 36 percent.
Thomas Whalen, a Boston University political science professor, put it this way: "To know Mitt Romney is to dislike him. That is the moral of the story."
This isn't about party. Massachusetts has had plenty of modern Republican governors -- Weld, Cellucci, Swift -- and all were more popular with their Bay State constituents than Romney.
This is, I'd argue, especially relevant in the 2012 presidential race, because Romney's arguing he can apply his business know-how to create an economic wonderland, but when he made the same promises in the Bay State, he failed -- Massachusetts' job creation record during Romney's term was "one of the worst in the country," ranking 47th out of 50 states.
This is all generally overlooked, which is a shame because it seems like it ought to be more relevant in a presidential campaign.
Here's the sample question reporters can ask Romney: why are you so woefully unpopular with the same constituents who gave you a chance to lead and were unsatisfied with the results?