What people think of Obama and Romney — in 4 word clouds!

at 02:43 PM ET, 06/27/2012

Perception is everything in politics. It can create a reality or run counter to one — all without a politician having much say in the matter.

Given that, we we were intrigued this morning when Chuck Todd (on his “Daily Rundown” show) showed the positive — and negative — words that respondents to the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll used to describe both President Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

That he showed them in word clouds — the Fix is a sucker for a good word cloud — made it all the more intriguing. We asked the good folks at NBC if we could get the four word clouds and they sent them over.

We’ve posted them after the jump. The findings are fascinating.

Let’s start with the positive words mentioned by those polled about Obama and Romney. (And for those unfamiliar with word clouds, the bigger the word, the more time it was mentioned.)

Here’s Obama’s positive word cloud:

And here’s Romney’s positive word cloud:

On the good news front for Obama is the fact that “good job”, “honest” and, interestingly, “health reform” were often mentioned. For Romney, the fact that “change” was one of the words most often used to describe him is a fascinating window into how quickly ownership of the change mantle can switch. (Remember that Obama ran on the twin ideas of “hope” and “change” in 2008.)

Now onto the negative word clouds.

Here’s Obama’s:

And here’s Romney’s:

That “economy” is the most mentioned negative word associated with Obama affirms — again — the problem he has in selling the American public on the idea that the economy is, in fact, getting better.

For Romney, his biggest problems are the sense that he is simply not in tune with average Americans and that he looks to protect the wealthiest Americans rather than the middle class.

Viewed broadly, the perception of Obama — according to the word cloud — is of someone who is looking out for the average guy but not handling the economy well enough. The perception of Romney is of a successful and competent businessman who doesn’t understand the struggles of average people.

These perceptions are the reality that both candidates must deal with as they try to convince voters they are the right man for the job this fall. Neither case is easy to make — but that’s what campaigns and elections are for.

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