The Washington Post

Mitt Romney? Etch-a-what?

GOP candidate Newt Gingrich displays an Etch a Sketch in Baton Rouge, La. last week. (Tim Mueller/AP)

The uproar over Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom’s “Etch a Sketch” comment last week — that Romney’s conservative stances will shift after he wins the nomination — was intense.

The gaffe dominated the news for days. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich constantly brandished the gadget at televised campaign events — even handing them out at rallies — to highlight their accusations that Romney is not a true conservative and flips and flops more than that freshly caught fish in the bottom of your Bass Boat.

But despite all the hoopla, all that grave chin-stroking about the potential implications, a Pew Research Center poll taken last week and released Tuesday found that fewer than half of those surveyed, some 44 percent, had even heard about Fehrnstrom’s comment. What’s more, among those who had, not all that much was changed.

The poll found that 8 percent of Republicans said the remark would make them less likely to support Romney.

However, 5 percent said they were more likely to support the sketcher. And 36 percent of Republicans said it had no effect on their opinion of Romney. Overall, pretty much a wash.

Independent voters were perhaps a bit more affected. Some 47 percent had heard about the remark and, of those, 10 percent said it would make them less likely to support Romney (only 3 percent said more likely) but 32 percent said it had no effect on their opinion.

Meanwhile, the Pew poll found voters felt this campaign is pretty much like other recent ones— dull, long and negative.

Roughly half of those polled in March or April in 2004, 2008 and last week, described those campaigns that way. The only exception was that 59 percent said the 2008 campaign was interesting — largely because of the Obama-Clinton slugfest. Only 38 percent find the campaign interesting this time around.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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