What does Mitt Romney have to do to make Republican voters like him—hand out free treats? With the Republican field cut down to just four candidates, voters are more unhappy than ever. Our guide to today's polls and why they matter.
Findings: Republicans are more dissatisfied with their presidential candidates than ever, and for the first time, more Republicans (52 percent) are unhappy with the field than are happy with it (46 percent). Just before the New Hampshire primary, 51 percent said the candidates were good or excellent. And going all the way back to May 2011, Republican voters have seen their candidates more positively than negatively. Further, in January 2008, 68 percent of those voters saw the field as excellent or good.
Pollster: Pew Research Center
Methodology: Survey of 1,006 adults, among them 341 Republican and lean-Republican registered voters between January 26 and January 29.
Why it matters: You people are never satisfied! The Republican field has been cut in half, with the least popular people dropping out. And yet voters are less satisfied than ever. It seems like the negative ads the candidates have been running against each other have turned off not only independents, but Republicans as well. A poll from Rasmussen finds that 45 percent of likely voters think there have been too many debates.
Caveat: Republicans are still more enthusiastic to vote this fall than Democrats are, a Gallup poll shows. The "enthusiasm gap" is blamed for the size of Republicans' victory in 2010.
Findings: Romney is beating Obama in swing states, though the president has caught up since the fall. Obama gets 47 percent to Romney's 48 percent nationally, while in November Obama last 43 percent to Romney's 48 percent, and in October lost 46 percent to Romney's 47 percent. Nationally, they tie with 48 percent. Obama easily beats Gingrich in swing states, 54 percent to Gingrich's 40 percent.
Methodology: Telephone interviews conducted between January 24 and January 28 with 737 registered voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Why it matters: Swing states pick the presidents.
Caveat: In a close election, turnout matters a lot, and Republicans still have an advantage as their voters are more enthusiastic. The poll shows 62 percent of swing state Republicans are very or extremely excited to vote -- 35 percent in the extremely category -- while 54 percent of swing state Democrats are extremely or very excited to vote, just 23 percent of them extremely.
Findings: About 55 percent of voters think Obama understands the problems of average Americans very or fairly well, while 39 percent think Romney understands their problems. Just 36 percent think Gingrich understands their problems.
Pollster: Pew Research Center/ The Washington Post
Methodology: Survey of 1,006 adults between January 26 and January 29, 402 of them cell phone users.
Why it matters: The poll doesn't explicitly say what those Americans think they're problems are, but we can guess. (It definitely can't be that they are desperate to vacation on the Moon, because Gingrich would have their votes in the bag.) The economy has long been voters' top concern. A Rasmussen poll released last week finds that 55 percent of likely voters think the wealthy should pay at least 30 percent in taxes (Romney pays about 15 percent). Perhaps the attacks against Romney that he's a 1 percenter have stuck. Americans still don't blame Obama for the economy. A Washington Post/ ABC News poll this month found that 59 percent blame George W. Bush for the economy, while 29 percent blame Obama.
Caveat: Romney went from sure loser in Florida to sure winner in a week. He hasn't started airing ads against Obama yet.