I would add one other bit of bad news for Mitt Romney to Ed’s analysis of the recent Gallup Poll. Not only does the poll reveal Romney’s “empathy” problem — the sense that he is “not on people’s side” — it also reveals that, on the question of who will do a better job solving the unemployment problem, Romney is tied with Obama.

It is remarkable, given the current economic statistics and the dashed promises of the Obama administration that things would be better by now, that Romney doesn’t enjoy a substantial lead on this metric. After all, the central credential of his candidacy is that he knows how to fix the economy and put people back to work.

While it is early to conclude this message won’t work, it hints that Romney’s bromides about more tax cuts and less regulation may be falling on deaf ears beyond the base, and that his days at Bain make him a great candidate to run a business but not an economy.

For me, the poll came as I was contemplating a basic question on the 2012 race: Is Obama a Jimmy Carter, whose campaign to demonize his opponent failed to overcome his own record of weaknesses? Or is Mitt Romney a Michael Dukakis, who had many advantages over a weak incumbent (in Dukakis’s case, a vice president) but was a mistake-prone and weak candidate? Anyone out there want to weigh in on that question?