Every Republican candidate since 1984 has been seen as less in touch with the average voter than the Democratic candidate. To see this, we can look at polling data from 1984 to 2012 — conducted in the fall of each presidential election year — in which voters were asked whether a candidate “cared about people like me.”

Romney, at 46 percent, was only the second Republican to have less than half of voters to see him as caring about “people like me.” Yet, President Obama’s score on this question was also low historically, the second worst score for a Democratic candidate since 1984. Obama’s 14 percentage-point lead over Romney on the question (60 percent to 46 percent) was just 1 percentage point greater than average Democratic edge.