The stakes could not be higher.

In a historic election season full of intense campaigning, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama head into their 2012 party conventions tied at 46%, according to the most recent Gallup poll (ending August 25). A closer look at the polling data shows that voters see each of the candidates having a key advantage over the other.

In an economy in which millions are struggling to find work, voters perceive the business-savvy former CEO Romney as the candidate that is "better able to handle the economy" by a strong 52% to 43% advantage. Romney's financial expertise also has played favorably among voter perceptions when it comes to "handling the federal budget deficit," where he leads the president by 15 points, 54% to 39%.

But when it comes to personal favorability among voters, Obama's charm and familiarity has been difficult to overcome for Romney -- who is less well-known than the president and generally has a more serious demeanor. The president is perceived by voters as being the more "likeable" and "trustworthy" of the two candidates by large margins: 54% to 31% and 48% to 36%, respectively.

Romney has two months to convince voters that he's the right guy to fix the economy AND that he's likable and trustworthy. No small feat.

To close the gap and ultimately move the needle in the Republican's favor, Romney and fellow speakers at the Republican National Convention in Tampa need to make a big splash this week.

This convention is his chance to present himself in a new way to voters. And every fiber optic cable, stage light and national debt clock will have their role, presenting Romney in a new light. 

So how many components does it take to build a candidate's reputation? Let's look at the numbers and dollars behind the 2012 Republican National Convention to find out:

All Eyes Are On Florida Again 

39,000,000: The number of people expected to tune in on their television sets to watch Romney, running mate Rep. Paul Ryan and others speak at the convention. Many viewers will be watching the candidates for the first time.

1972: The last time a Republican convention was held in Florida -- for the second nomination of Richard M. Nixon. This will be the Republican Party's third convention to be held in Florida.


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