Report

What One Word Best Describes Mitt Romney?

As the American public has learned more about Mitt Romney over the course of the past year, his image has changed substantially. Last fall, the one word that came to mind most frequently when people were asked to describe Romney was Mormon. The same question this spring elicited the words rich and no more frequently than any other. While Romney's wealth remains a defining feature, today it is joined by the words honest and businessman, two terms that were offered by relatively few as recently as March.

The new national survey by the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post, conducted August 23-26, 2012 among 1,010 adults nationwide, finds that while many people are now using different words to describe Romney, the words remain on balance more negative than positive. Romney elicits far more positive reactions from Republicans now than in the spring, but both Democrats and independents continue to say more negative than positive things about him.

Overall, 42% of the words volunteered by respondents are clearly negative, most commonly liar, arrogant, crook, out of touch, distrust and fake. Fewer (28%) offer words that are clearly positive in tone, such as honest, good, leadership, and capable. The remaining 30% of words are more descriptive and neutral in their tone, including businessman, rich, conservative, and Republican. As the campaign progresses, fewer Americans are offering neutral descriptions of Romney, but people continue to have more negative than positive things to say about him.

Read the full report, Romney in a Word: 'Honest,' 'Businessman,' 'Rich,' on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press website.