The Washington Post

How Mitt Romney lost on Libya — in 1 chart

After awarding Mitt Romney the "Worst Week in Washington" for his seemingly premature attempt at political point-scoring following protests in  Egypt and Libya, we heard from LOTS of you telling us that we had, well, swung and missed.

While some of the language was unprintable, the gist of the criticism was that President Obama deserved blame for what was happening in the Middle East and that by focusing on a single statement from Romney we were totally missing the point. (Wouldn't be the first time!)

But now comes polling data from the Pew Research Center that suggests Romney's comments were not well received by the general public -- a direct contrast to the generally positive response Obama's actions in the region drew.

Here are those numbers in a single chart:

Now, these numbers are not without caveats.

1.   The numbers are derived from the 82 percent of people who told Pew they were following the events -- whether closely or not that closely -- in the Middle East. That, of course, means that 18 percent of people tested by Pew said they weren't following what was happening in Libya closely and their views were not represented in the numbers above.

2. The situation in Libya, Egypt and beyond continues to evolve. The longer protests continue, the more the focus will likely shift from Romney's statement last Tuesday to the efficacy of the policies that President Obama has put into place. And that added level of scrutiny -- amid images of ongoing violence -- could turn the issue into much more of a negative for Obama.

3. Foreign policy won't decide the election -- or come anywhere close to deciding it.   People who followed the recent conflict in the Middle East may not have loved how Romney responded but there's little evidence that anything outside of the economy and other domestic policy matters will be deciding influences on how voters -- particularly those who are still undecided --make up their minds.

All fair enough. Less fair, we think, is the allegation that the media sets the narrative of the campaign and decided, wrongly, that a single Romney statement mattered more than the broader indictment of Obama's policies that the protests revealed.

Regardless, the numbers from Pew do make one thing abundantly clear: For those following the Middle East situation over the past seven days, Mitt Romney came off worse than did President Obama -- for a week at least.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Democrats debate Thursday. Get caught up on the race.
The big questions after New Hampshire, from The Post's Dan Balz
Can Bernie Sanders cut into Hillary Clinton's strength in the minority community and turn his challenge into a genuine threat? And can any of the Republicans consolidate anti-Trump sentiment in the party in time to stop the billionaire developer and reality-TV star, whose unorthodox, nationalistic campaign has shaken the foundations of American politics?
Clinton in New Hampshire: 2008 vs. 2015
Hillary Clinton did about as well in N.H. this year as she did in 2008, percentage-wise. In the state's main counties, Clinton performed on average only about two percentage points worse than she did eight years ago (according to vote totals as of Wednesday morning) -- and in five of the 10 counties, she did as well or better.
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.