That said, Romney’s number in this new Bloomberg poll is hugely telling.
The poll asked about a hypothetical matchup between Romney and Hillary Clinton, and Romney led by 10 points, 50-40. As our colleague Dave Weigel would say, “Whoa, if true.”
But here’s the thing about those numbers: If there is a national politician whose image rating is about as poor as both Clinton’s and Trump’s, it’s Romney.
Back in March, Bloomberg pollster Selzer and Company tested Romney’s favorable ratings and found that he was nearly 2-to-1 in the negative: 58 percent unfavorable versus just 32 percent favorable. That's even worse than most of Trump’s numbers this year.
At the time, Romney had just delivered a big speech rebuking Trump and had probably alienated Trump supporters, making his numbers unusually bad. But other, more recent polls this year don’t show him in much better shape. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in July showed Romney’s favorable-unfavorable split at 27-42. A Gallup poll also in July put it at 35-51.
Despite being largely out of public view in recent years, you see, Romney is still an unloved figure in American politics. And that’s a big reason I wrote in 2014 that he should think hard before jumping into the 2016 campaign.
His numbers today are actually worse than they were then. And yet, here he is leading Clinton in a hypothetical matchup by 10 points? (Obama’s hypothetical lead over Trump, by the way, isn’t much bigger, at 53-41.)
If there was one telltale sign of an election in which we as a nation are thoroughly disgusted with our options, it’s that. We don’t even need an alternative that we especially care for; we’ll just vote for anything that isn’t Trump or Clinton or that third-party guy who has Aleppo moments.
This poll will surely lead a few Romney die-hards/NeverTrumpers to pine — or rather, continue pining — for a 2016 campaign in which Romney was the Clinton alternative rather than Trump. And perhaps Romney would really have done better than Trump.
But when it comes to evidence that the American people are over the 2016 election, the idea that they would gladly hand the presidency to Romney right now speaks volumes.