Theories abound for why Mitt Romney is behind in the polls despite the fact that President Obama has overseen, at best, a tepid economic recovery from the Great Recession. Some blame Romney's stiffness and inability to connect with voters. Others point to his remarks about the "47 percent," which cemented the unfortunate impression that Romney doesn't care all that much for those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. And still others, mostly on the Right, say he is lagging because of a vast left-wing media conspiracy to keep Obama in power. But it's possible that Romney's ill fortune has little to do with the man himself. The real cause, says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post, is that the Republican brand is still in the dumps.

The Republican Party remains at a low point in terms of its popularity, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with a majority of voters (53 percent) saying they have an unfavorable view of the party and more than one in three (35 percent) saying they view Republicans in a strongly unfavorable light.

The popularity of the GOP also continues to languish among several groups that could decide the election.

While 52 percent of self-described moderates view the Democratic Party favorably, just 35 percent view the Republican Party favorably.

Fully 60 percent of moderates view the GOP in a negative light, including 33 percent who view it very unfavorably. By contrast, just 11 percent of moderates see the Republican Party in a “strongly favorable” light.

And while Republicans used to be able to draw from moderate and conservative Democrats — once referred to as “Reagan Democrats” — today just 11 percent of those voters have a positive view of the GOP.

(Read the entire article at The Washington Post.)

Indeed, the GOP's branding problem seems to largely stem from the fact that Americans still blame the party for causing the recession in the first place. And for all Romney's personal inadequacies, that's his main problem, says Jonathan Chait at New York: "He's defending an unpopular platform and an unpopular party." (Polls show that most Americans agree that the rich should pay more taxes, for example.) Conservatives, of course, disagree. The editorial board at The Wall Street Journal says Romney should double down on his tax argument, and insist that lower rates for everyone "would increase economic growth that would raise income for everyone."