One last batch of numbers from the New York Times/CBS poll:
In general, do you think the policies proposed by Mitt Romney favor the rich, favor the middle class, favor the poor, or do they treat all groups equally?
Favor the rich: 53
Favor the middle class: 11
Favor the poor: 1
Treat all equally: 22
Fifty three percent of independents say Romney’s policies favor the rich; only 10 percent of them say they favor the middle class. Also:
Do you think Mitt Romney does or does not understand the needs and problems of peoplelike yourself?
Sixty one percent of independents say Romney does not understand their needs and problems; only 27 percent of them say he does. On this question, Rick Santorum does better, with an even split among overall respondents of 37-37.
Obama is faring better than Romney on these questions, too. Only 25 percent overall say Obama’s policies favor the rich, while 19 percent say they favor the middle class, 20 percent say they favor the poor, and 26 percent say they treat everyone equally. Fifty four percent say Obama understands the needs of people like themselves; independents say the same, 49-45.
The other day, Dem pollster Peter Hart articulated a theory of the GOP nomination process to me: He suggested that as independents got to know Romney better, they were concluding on some fundamental level that he just isn’t their guy, that he isn’t the person who will fight their fight, that he’s from “a different world.” These new numbers only reinforce this view.
There will still be time for Romney to reintroduce himself to these voters on better terms if he becomes the nominee. But these findings again suggest the possibility that the drawn out nomination process is revealing general election weaknesses that had been papered over by his rivals’ far worse flaws. More and more observers are beginning to question the assumption that Romney is the most electable GOPer, and as Nate Silver notes today, Santorum may have some advantages that Romney lacks. Today’s numbers won’t hurt this case.