David Frum

09.05.12

How Do Undecided Voters Really Feel?

Byron York, writing for the Washington Examiner, has sobering news for Obama's prospects in North Carolina.

When Luntz asked everyone to describe Obama in a single word or phrase, the results were mostly painful for the White House. "Charismatic," said the first person. "Arrogant," said the next. Then: "Doesn't come through with what he said." "Great salesman." "Struggling." "Dreamer." "Incompetent." "Lack of leadership." "Compromised." "Trying." "Big disappointment." "Failure." "Misleading." "Uncertain." "Good speaker." "Intelligent." "Not experienced." "Courageous." "Leader." "Politician."

Those voters had kinder descriptions of Romney, but they hardly constitute a ringing endorsement.

As he did for Obama, Luntz asked for short descriptions of Romney. The responses weren't boffo -- some focus negatively on Romney's wealth -- but on the whole they were significantly better than Obama's. "Likeable," said the first person. "Decent," said the second. Then: "Elitist." "Born with a silver spoon." "Determined." "Cocky." "Hard-core businessman." "Knowledgeable." "Wealthy and self-serving." "Successful in business." "Hopeful." "Unlikable." "Leader." "Business savvy." "Rich and cocky." "Rich child." "Not sure he's running for the right reason." "Understanding." "Old-fashioned." "Caring."