John Sides looks at how voters view Romney’s and Obama’s ideologies:
[P]erceptions of Romney’s ideology did not change before and after the debate—even though the timing of the post-debate poll allowed respondents to hear two days of news coverage discussing Romney’s pivot. But the lack of change is not surprising: a venerable finding in political science is that many people do not have a deep understanding of political ideologies in general or the specific positions that candidates take in elections—much less how the latter connects to the former.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Romney may not have needed this pivot to the center anyway. Even though he is perceived as more conservative than the average voter—and increasingly so—he is still closer to the average voter than is Obama.
He just reminded them he was alive. Hence my meta-view that Obama’s biggest strategic error was not throwing caution to the winds and embracing Bowles-Simpson in his 2011 SOTU. Yes it isn’t popular. But Obama is; and his embrace of it would have allowed him to own the center he left hanging for Romney to occupy last week.