"In the war of partisan trash talk that frequently consumes online political media, one truth has emerged from this year's election coverage that transcends ideology," says McKay Coppins at BuzzFeed: "No one wants to read about Mitt Romney." At BuzzFeed, for instance, "two sets of similar, photo-heavy posts [that] focused on the early lives of President Obama and Mitt Romney... [were] comparably promoted." The Obama photo series outdrew Romney 10-to-1. And anecdotally, on many websites across the political spectrum, "the well-starched Republican's traffic poison" has writers and editors longing for the days of John McCain, Sarah Palin, and "the Obama-Clinton blood feud." Romney has roughly a 50-50 shot to be the next leader of the free world. So why isn't anybody interested in stories about him? Here, four theories:
1. Americans assume they can't relate to Mitt
Voters may not be thrilled with Obama, but "Romney is still seen as horribly out of touch and painful to watch on TV," says Taylor Marsh at her blog. Even after four years, Obama's story is still innately compelling, "the tale of a man who began so humbly and ended up the most powerful person in the world." Romney? If he's had any travails, they're certainly "not comparable to your average American's struggle." It could be that if people took the time to read about Romney, they'd grow to like him. The bad news "for Team Mitt is people don't seem to care enough to find out."
2. Mitt is trying to fly under the radar
Romney has wisely figured out that "no buzz is good buzz," says Reihan Salam at National Review. He effectively sticks to his script, saying the same thing over and over, and letting Obama be the story. That's not hard: No matter what you think of him, "Obama is a charismatic, larger-than-life figure who attracts considerable attention...." That was a boon in 2008, but today, as journalist Richard Rushfield notes, "there is no such thing as positive attention in the Twitter age," and "anyone who sticks their head up is going to just have it picked apart by 100,000,000 gnats."
3. Matt Drudge is on Team Romney
If Romney is trying to keep his name from the headlines, he has an ally in the the reclusive publisher of the eponymous Drudge Report, says Coppins at BuzzFeed. Drudge's site is "the largest single source of traffic to the political web," and as Romney's GOP primary rivals noted, sometimes bitterly, The Drudge Report "rarely links stories critical of the Republican nominee."
4. No one cares about another boring white guy
Romney may not have been presumptive GOP nominee for long, but he's still "old news," Daily Caller columnist Matt Lewis tells BuzzFeed. "In a sense he's been running for president for five years," and anyone interested in the race this early surely knows all about him. On top of that, Romney's "a middle-aged white guy, which is boring because it is so common in our history." It would clearly be better for the political web if he were, say, a woman or Latino, and that's "one of the reasons we should all be rooting for Romney to pick someone like Marco Rubio for veep."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- How Scotland's independence movement lost the vote and still won everything
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Mike Huckabee's head-scratching advice to Christian voters
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The American middle class is no longer safe from poverty — and that might be a good thing
- Adrian Peterson and our misguided debate about spanking
- 10 things you need to know today: September 19, 2014
- The Tea Party has its own immigration problem: Cuba
Subscribe to the Week