early and awkward

If Mitt Romney Disappears for a While, He Might One Day Be As Popular As George W. Bush

President of the United States, George W. Bush shakes hands with former Republican presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at the swimming arena at the National Aquatics Center during day 2 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 10, 2008 in Beijing, China.
The last time Romney and Bush were photographed together … over four years ago. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In what seems like an ominous sign of just how bad things have gotten for Mitt Romney, a Bloomberg News poll shows that he’s actually less popular now than George W. Bush. This is the same George W. Bush, you may recall, who was a no-show at the GOP convention, hasn’t made single appearance on the campaign trail, and announced his endorsement of Romney through a pair of closing elevator doors — all to prevent his supposed toxicity from rubbing off on the GOP nominee. It’s like avoiding garlic because you don’t want your breath to smell, only to discover that your breath naturally smells like wet dog.

In reality, though, Bush’s popularity edge over Romney says more about Bush than Romney. Bush’s net favorability rating of -3, after all, just isn’t that bad. (In fact, it’s the same as Joe Biden’s.) Over the past three-plus years, Bush’s reputation with the American people has gradually improved, and he didn’t need to do anything except stay out of politics.

It’s not a phenomenon unique to Bush. To take another recent example: When Hillary Clinton exited the Democratic primary race in June of 2008, she had a favorability rating of around 53, 54 percent, according to various polls. It’s now up in the high sixties, and we doubt most voters could even point to anything specific she’s done as secretary of State that they particularly appreciate. It’s just that she’s no longer a partisan combatant.

So maybe there is actually a silver lining here for Romney. Yes, America, the country he so desperately wishes to lead, does not like him. But it will, someday, as soon as he disappears. In fact, if he wanted to be bold, he could disappear from now until Election Day and see if that works.

Why George W. Bush Is More Popular Than Romney