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Partisans love to hate President Obama and Mitt Romney

at 07:00 AM ET, 08/08/2012

More than eight in 10 Republicans view President Obama unfavorably, while a similar number of Democrats see former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in an negative light, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The numbers are just the latest sign of the deep partisan divide gripping the 2012 presidential race.

Eighty-four percent of Republicans view Obama unfavorably, while 80 percent of Democrats feel the same about Romney. Those are among the highest numbers ever measured for the opposing candidates in Post-ABC polling, far outdistancing all but how Republicans viewed Bill Clinton in 1996 (78 percent unfavorable) and how Democrats saw George W. Bush in 2004 (76 percent unfavorable).

Here’s a full chart detailing how the opposite party has felt about the presidential nominees dating back to 1988:

The partisan polarization is even bigger than it appears on its face — particularly in regards to how Republicans regard (or don’t) Obama, with 70 percent of GOPers seeing him in a strongly unfavorable light.

The numbers also aren’t great for Romney among Democrats — 57 percent view him very unfavorably — but when compared to Obama, the former Massachusetts governor looks downright popular among members of the opposition party.

Given the tone of the campaign thus far, those numbers are not at all surprising. But what they do tell us is that partisans are more entrenched in their respective camps earlier than ever before — and motivation on either side shouldn’t be any problem for Democrats or Republicans.

The bigger problem may well not be in the campaign but in its aftermath, as the deeply unfavorable views that partisans feel towards the candidate of the opposite party aren’t likely to go away no matter who wins — and cloud an already-difficult post-election phase with the “fiscal cliff” rapidly approaching.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted Aug. 1-5 among 1,026 adults on both conventional and cellular phones. The margin of error for the overall results is plus or minus four percentage points; it’s seven points for results among Republicans and 7.5 points for results among Democrats. Full interactive results and breakdowns available here.

Akin wins primary to face McCaskill: Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) won the GOP primary to face Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Tuesday, lining up one of the premier Senate matchups of the 2012 election.

Akin emerged from a field that included former state treasurer Sarah Steelman and businessman John Brunner, and he was propped up by some late Democratic ads that seemed designed to promote his nomination, which Democrats saw as their best possible outcome.

McCaskill is currently rated by The Fix as the most vulnerable senator in 2012, though, and Republicans are counting on winning her seat to help return them to the majority.

For more on the results in several states Tuesday, see The Fix’s House recap here.

Priorities USA ad called ‘not true’: CNN has labeled as false a stark new Democratic super PAC ad featuring a man who blames Bain Capital for his lack of health insurance and, by extension, his wife’s death from cancer.

CNN reports that the woman who died actually had her primary insurance through her job at a local thrift store and carried secondary insurance through her husband’s job at GST Steel.

Her husband lost his job at GST in 2001, she lost her job in 2002 or 2003, and she died in 2006, just weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. The Priorities USA Action ad leaves the impression that she lost her insurance when her husband lost his job and died because she didn’t have insurance.

The man, Obama supporter Joe Soptic, says he still blames Romney for his wife’s lack of coverage.

“Mitt Romney is a very rich man. I mean, it is obvious if you watch him on television, he is completely out of touch with the average family — you know, middle-income people,” Soptic told CNN. “I don’t think he has any concept as to how when you close a big company how [it] affects families, the community. You know, it affects everyone.”

Romney botches ‘Sikh’: Romney’s visit to Iowa was marked by a couple slips of the tongue, with the candidate transposing the word “Sikh” with “sheik” while discussing the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

“We had a moment of silence in honor of the people who lost their lives at that sheik temple. I noted that it was a tragedy for many, many reasons,” Romney said. “Among them are the fact that people, the sheik people, are among the most peaceable and loving individuals you can imagine, as is their faith.”

A sheik is the term for a leader of an Arab family or village. Romney spokesman Rick Gorka said the candidate “mispronounced similar-sounding words.”

This probably doesn’t help a guy who recently had a rough foreign trip, though it’s hardly a major deal.

Fixbits:

The Obama Administration uses Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval to argue against Romney on welfare reform.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) says Obama should let all of the Bush tax cuts expire.

Ann Romney’s horse falls short of winning a medal in dressage.

Elizabeth Warren releases a new Massachusetts Senate race ad urging more investment in education.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) debuts a third “Democrats for Brown” ad.

A new DSCC ad in Montana hits Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) for voting for a congressional pay raise even though he’s a millionaire, using old footage of the congressman swearing off pay raises.

An internal poll for Rep. Mazie Hirono shows her leading former congressman Ed Case in the Hawaii Democratic Senate primary by 17 points.

Redistricting reform will be on the ballot in Ohio.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) says Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), the only Republican in the Congressional Black Caucus, offended his colleagues when he bought them Chick-fil-A for lunch six months ago.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) endorses former Hono­lulu mayor Mufi Hannemann in the Democratic primary for Hirono’s House seat.

The Minnesota Democratic party is spending $120,000 to boost its endorsed candidate, former congressman Rick Nolan, in the race to face Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.).

Must-reads:

Convention Challenge: VIP Speakers Who Send Wrong Message” — Beth Reinhard, National Journal

GOP businessmen-candidates in Missouri, Wisconsin, Arizona portray themselves as outsiders” — Paul Kane, Washington Post

Romney’s Job Growth Promises” — Catherine Rampell, New York Times

Ohio economy improving, but residents can’t feel it” — Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post

Obama campaign app concerns some privacy advocates” — Hayley Tsukayama, Washington Post

 
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