Mitt Romney’s campaign might take solace in the fact that “Mormon” is no longer the single most frequently mentioned one-word descriptor for the former Massachusetts governor, but they may bemoan its replacements atop the list: “no” and “rich”
A new poll from The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center highlights quick, off-the-cuff public impressions of the four top GOP candidates. (The reported results are raw, unadjusted counts of the number of respondents using each word.)
For each of the four candidates -- Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul -- more people use negative than positive words, although many can be classified as neutral and sizable numbers offered no word at all.
Paralleling the growing number of Americans giving Gingrich unfavorable ratings, the former House speaker gets the highest proportion of negative words. His top word is scored as neutral but may be a negative to some: “old.” It’s followed by four more clearly negative words: “no,“ “idiot,” “untrustworthy” and “dislike.”
Since December, the percentage of Republicans offering a negative word about Gingrich doubled. More Republicans now use a negative than a positive word, 34 to 20 percent.
For Romney, the overall number of people citing money or wealth has soared since late last year, with mentions of his religion way down. His top five in the new poll are “no,” “rich,” “good,” “Mormon” and “moderate.”
The top five for Santorum: “conservative,” “no,” “good,” “OK,” and “crazy.” Paul garners these top four: “no,” “old,” “libertarian” and “honest,” followed by a tie for fifth place of “crazy,” “good,” “too old” and “OK.”
Paul is the only one of the four to get labeled a “libertarian,” but others draw mentions about ideology. The table below charts the combined view.
Note: Variants of “conservative” including “too conservative” and “ultraconservative” are included in total.
Research analyst Kimberly Hines contributed to this report.