"How a candidate of Romney's pedigree could cut such an unsympathetic figure has become a minor obsession in the media. Explanations range from his association with the corporate one percent to his willingness to contradict himself on key issues. All these are true, but the underlying dynamic governing our reaction to his controversial affiliations and positions is a completely natural psychological response to competing stimuli -- one that's best summed up with a technological metaphor.
In robotics, researchers have observed that as an object acquires human-like properties, people respond to the object with more positive feelings. The less anthropomorphized an object, the less empathy. What's cognitively demanding about this formulation is that engineers are beginning to create robots that approximate human behavior so closely that the mind interprets the robot in human terms even if the machine lacks distinguishing anthropomorphic features, like a face. The result is an unsettling feeling that borders on anxiety or revulsion. When a robot inspires such emotions, it's said to have fallen into the uncanny valley of a conceptual graph that charts fluctuations in our empathetic capacity. [...]
Romney's problem is that he occupies a kind of uncanny valley for politicians. Just as people who interact with lifelike robots often develop a strange feeling due to something they can't quite name, something about Romney leaves voters unsettled."
— Brian Fung, The Atlantic
"Few candidates are as deft as Mr. Romney at genially brushing off unwelcome queries and comments.
In Bedford, N.H., a woman walked up to him after a speech and declared: 'I have a lot friends who say you are the robotic type. And I am like, no, you need to stay that way because you are a leader.'
Mr. Romney’s mouth arched into a somewhat pained smile as he rushed to conclude the conversation. 'Nice to see you guys,' he said as he walked away.
A few moments later, a voter named David Rivers asked Mr. Romney whether there would be place for Mr. Paul, a Texas congressman, in a Romney White House. Mr. Romney treated the question as a joke, letting out a laugh and walking on by.
'I was actually kind of serious,' Mr. Rivers said in an interview afterward."
— Ashley Parker and Michael Barbaro, The New York Times