Much has been made about Mitt Romney’s so-called dog problem: the story about the time he strapped his Irish Setter Seamus to the top of the car roof for an extended road trip. But thanks to the good folks over at Public Policy Polling, we now have the hard numbers on just how damaging the anecdote is to his campaign.
The dog story appears not to have penetrated voters’ consciousness’ as deeply as the press has hypothesized. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they were unsure what their opinion is of Romney’s treatment of dogs. Twenty percent held a favorable opinion, while 29 percent held an unfavorable one.
But when presented with the facts of the case, voters were more judgmental. Sixty-eight percent said it was “inhumane” to strap the “family dog in a kennel on the roof of your car for a long car trip,” while just 14 percent called it “humane.”
When voters were directly informed about Romney’s treatment of Seamus, 35 percent said they would be less likely to vote for him, while 55 percent said it would make no difference. A somewhat sadistic 7 percent said the anecdote actually made them more likely to vote for him.
President Barack Obama, who once took his Portuguese Water Dog Bo in the motorcade on a holiday shopping trip to PetsMart, received high marks for his treatment of dogs — with 44 percent saying they have a favorable opinion, and 14 percent an unfavorable opinion.
But what votes Seamus steals from Romney, his wife Ann may be able to win back.
If the presidential election were a popularity contest with the candidates’ wives, Romney would win the Republican primary, but then President Barack Obama would claim victory in a general election.
Ann Romney is the most popular of the Republican presidential candidate’s wives, with 31 percent of the public citing a favorable opinion, and 22 percent citing an unfavorable one. Forty-seven percent said they still have no opinion.
Karen Santorum is the second most popular wife, with a 31-27 favorability split. Like Ann, she too has low name recognition, with 42 percent saying they are unsure.
Voters have much stronger — and more negative feelings — about Newt Gingrich’s wife, Callista. Just 18 percent said they have a favorable opinion of the former House speaker’s third wife, while 44 percent cited an unfavorable opinion.
Michelle Obama’s trumps them all, with a 54-34 favorability. In fairness, she is far better known than any of the Republican wives, with just 12 percent saying they are unsure of their opinion of her.
Ron Paul’s wife, Carol, has largely been a quiet presence on the campaign trail, and her popularity was not polled.
Note – this post was written by Alexis Levinson for The Daily Caller and appears here via a content sharing agreement with Mediaite.
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