And while the Romney campaign can accurately claim he balanced four budgets as governor, it is also worth noting that state law in Massachusetts requires a balanced budget.
According to our study, quality of life in Massachusetts also ranked among the highest in the country as Romney left office.
For political historian Whalen, that's not surprising: "I think Romney's biggest problem here in Massachusetts is not that he necessarily did a disastrous job. He didn't. But he raised the expectation bar so high that, you know, he just didn't deliver. "
Still, former Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei says Romney proved his mettle tackling a $3 billion deficit.
"He walked into a very difficult situation, and I think the fact that he was able to close the budget gap without increasing income or sales or any other broad-based tax, No. 1. And No. 2, he was able to control spending."
Romney said he opposed the court's ruling but would support a civil-union system for gay couples. He is also pushing for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. A Globe poll taken in the two days following the ruling showed 50 percent of Massachusetts residents supported the court's opinion, with 38 percent opposed.
Romney can't be accused of leaving the state in a shambles, local experts say, and his tenure was by no means a disaster. He left the state with one towering accomplishment -- universal health care, an achievement neither Romney nor Obama likes to mention now. But Romney fell short of his campaign pledge to change the state's political culture, stymied by a combination of entrenched interests and his own failure to cultivate relationships.
In fact, Romney’s record-low ratings probably have a lot to do with this year’s extended primary. John McCain, for example, was doing much better at this point in 2008, with a 54-40 approval/disapproval rating—but he had already won the nomination. According to ABC/Post, Romney’s unfavorability score has been exceeded “by only one top candidate in 28 years, Hillary Clinton in 2008.” It’s no accident that the past candidate who actually exceeds Romney’s unfavorable is Clinton, who was also still in a highly competitive nomination contest at the end of March.
A review of final pre-election surveys of voters since 1988 finds that all candidates enjoyed considerably higher personal ratings going into the final days of their campaigns than does Mitt Romney currently. In fact, only three, Michael Dukakis in 1988, George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996, were not rated favorably by a majority of voters.
By a 52% to 37% margin, more voters say they have an unfavorable than favorable view of Mitt Romney. The poll, conducted prior to Romney’s recent overseas trip, represents the sixth consecutive survey over the past nine months in which his image has been in negative territory.
By the end of his governorship, his approval rating had declined to a dismal 39 percent.