In three presidential battleground states, Mitt Romney could have faced a big problem during a third presidential run: familiarity.
The 2012 Republican nominee roiled the 2016 field when he said in January that he was considering another run for president—and then just as suddenly dropped out on Friday. If he had pursued a campaign, he would have faced some evidence that the more voters in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania got to know him, the less they liked him.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday paired various Republicans against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and asked voters whether they viewed the potential candidates favorably or unfavorably or if they didn't know enough about the candidates, then compared those numbers to voters previous surveys.
In Florida, 22 percent of voters in May 2012 said they hadn't heard enough about Romney to say how they viewed him, while 34 percent viewed him unfavorably and 40 percent viewed him favorably. Ultimately, he lost the state to Obama by about nine-tenths of a percentage point. Now, just 12 percent of voters there said they hadn't heard enough about him and 46 percent said they view him unfavorably.
The pattern repeated in Pennsylvania. In March 2012, 22 percent didn't know him well enough and 38 percent viewed him unfavorably. Now, only 10 percent said they hadn't heard enough to form an opinion, while a full 50 percent viewed him unfavorably. Romney, who in 2012 was never able to get more than 80 percent of voters in Pennsylvania to say they knew him well enough to form an opinion of him, lost the state by more than 5 percentage points.
In Ohio, 19 percent of voters in March 2012 didn't know him well enough to form an opinion, while 43 percent viewed him unfavorably. Now, those numbers are 12 and 48 percent (the difference in the unfavorable figures is within the poll's margin of error for Ohio, +/- 3.2 percentage points).
Quinnipiac polled 936 Florida voters, 943 Ohio voters, and 881 Pennsylvania voters by phone from Jan. 22-Feb. 1. The margin of error in Florida was +/- 3.2 percentage points; in Pennsylvania, +/- 3.3.