Americans Believe Obama Is More Liberal Than Romney Is Conservative

April 26, 2012, 4:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 4/21/2012) Etch-a-Sketch or wretched conservative: How will Democrats and the Obama reelection campaign try to portray presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney?

Former President Bill Clinton has an opinion on this. At a meeting last November with Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, campaign manager Jim Messina and Democratic National Committee Chair Patrick Gaspard, former President Bill Clinton advised that the more effective attack on Romney would be to pin permanently on him the label Romney has given himself, a “severe conservative,” rather than painting Romney as a flip-flopper with no real core. According to a recent story in Politico ( ) , Clinton’s advice, bolstered by data from Obama pollster Joel Benenson, has become the favored approach as the general election begins.

Not that it will be easy to convince Americans that Romney is as conservative as all that. Only 45% of all adults rate Romney conservative (with just 13% rating Romney very conservative and 32% somewhat conservative). Only 43% of conservatives and 49% of Republicans rate Romney conservative. Among some of the target audiences of the Romney-is-too-conservative attacks, just 43% of Hispanics and 48% of women rate Romney conservative.

By comparison, 53% rate Obama liberal (with 34% rating Obama very liberal and 19% somewhat liberal).

Romney’s real vulnerability under this attack is not that people already believe he is too conservative to be President. It is that people don’t know what to believe about Romney. Overall, 21% don’t know whether to rate Romney conservative, moderate or liberal, a blank sheet of paper on which the Obama campaign may now try to scribble, “Too conservative.”

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association