A bare majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents see former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as willing to say what they actually believe, according to a new Washington Post-ABC-News poll.
Call it the authenticity gap.
Just 52 percent of Republicans in the survey say they can rely on Gingrich either a “great deal”(21 percent) or a “good amount” (31 percent) to “say what he really believes.” The numbers are even less encouraging for Romney, with just 16 percent saying they feel they can rely on him “a great deal” to voice his actual opinions and 35 percent saying they trust him a “good amount” to speak his mind.
Those numbers compare unfavorably to Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who is the only candidate aside from Romney and Gingrich who clocks double digits in the national ballot test. Fully two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they have either a “great deal” or a “good amount” of faith that they can rely on Paul to say what he believes.The trust issue comes up repeatedly in the data. While six in 10 say they would vote for either Gingrich or Romney, just 35 percent say that either Romney (22 percent) or Gingrich (13 percent) is the “most honest and trustworthy candidate” in the field.
The data provides one — though not the only — explanation for why the frontrunners, particularly Romney, have been unable to close the deal with voters as of yet.