In my judgment, Romney’s poor numbers go back to his campaign’s obsession with talking only about the economy and not attempting to define who Romney is as a person, as a way to build trust and strong positive personal feelings toward their candidate. The Romney camp has yet to run what I would call a personal-positive ad, a biographical or values-based commercial portraying him as the kind of person whom people might want to vote for, someone with values that they would want to see in the Oval Office.What Cook fails to see here is that Romney has rolled himself out as much as can be allowed. He really has.
Let me explain. Years ago when Mitt Romney was relaxing in his house of the right height in New Hampshire, he and his advisers decided that his 2008 run was a mistake. Running as an ideological conservative evangelical firebrand culture warrior just didn't sell. He spent $30 million of his own money in Iowa and lost to Huckabee. He followed that up with a defeat in his own backyard at the hands a McCain campaign that was dead broke.
They decided that what Romney needed to be was be himself. So what we've been seeing during this cycle is the real Romney. He's a privileged, elitist, awkward, weird, insensitive, jerk financier asshole. People don't need to see a political ad from Obama to get that. His political speeches raise suspicions of it rather than removing doubts. His personality around lesser humans gives those suspicions weight and meter. He proves them true every time he opens his mouth without script. He can't fake it despite being an astonishingly practiced liar.
The Romney campaign can't turn Romney loose on the general public to go around barking the "Who let the dogs out" song. Some of his biggest supporters will tell you he's not the kind of guy anyone is going to like. That isn't because he's hiding himself from the public. If he exposed himself fully to the public he'd be even less likable than he is now. It is the Romney we see via the moments when he is rolling himself out that tell the public what they need to know about him. A case in point: his tax returns. Romney's shifty explanations and lack of honesty is on full display every time he explains whey he wont release them. The public can see that he's not just hiding something ... he actually believes what he's hiding is politically bad, but perfectly good. For people like him. Who deserve it. That's what comes across when people see Mitt Romney. That is as good as its going to get.
Romney's only hope to win this election is the hope that people will reject the incumbent based on perceptions of the economy. Romney can't win the election on "positive personal feelings" because he doesn't have any towards the public. The feelings are mutual.