Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Who do you like?

After the recent post where I mentioned Barack Obama-haters supporting Mitt Romney not for love, but for hate of President Obama, I read a newspaper article by Kathleen Hennessey of McClatchy News Service. In my paper it was headlined, “Why isn’t president tanking in polls? Voters like the guy.”


The article gives some statistics, showing that despite recession, a slow jobs recovery, an oil spill, the Obamacare controversy and some ugly fights with Congress, “Obama’s favorability is 54 percent, according to a recent USA Today-Gallup Poll. Respondents gave Romney a 46 percent favorability rating.”

To add to that statistic, “two-thirds of voters surveyed recently by the Wall Street Journal and NBC said they personally liked the president. Romney, the unofficial Republican nominee was personally liked by just 47 percent.

Not as likable.

“‘Basically, it looks like Romney’s personality is holding him back and Obama’s likability is helping him,’ said Jeffrey M. Jones, managing editor for the Gallup Poll. ‘It seems frivolous, but it matters.’”

Yes, it does. “Pollsters note that favorability ratings have been an accurate predictor in the last five elections, including the virtual tie of 2000. Vice President Al Gore went into the election with 56 percent of the voters having a favorable impression; George W. Bush was at 55 percent.”

“People tend to like their president.”

Romney’s recent foreign trip was not good. He wanted to portray himself as being good at foreign policy. He wanted to be liked in England, and then he opened his mouth. He wanted to be liked in Israel and it made the Palestinians angry with him. The whole excursion was a rough go, ill-advised if he meant to show his overall skill as a leader on a global level. (But then, according to an article in the Washington Post by Aaron Blake, quoting a Washington Post-ABC Poll, “One — yes, one — percent  of people said that foreign policy was the most important issue of the 2012 campaign. The problem for Romney coming off of this trip is even many of his staunchest defenders within the [Republican] party seem to have fallen back on a ‘He's not great but he doesn't need to be great’ argument.”)

I don’t know if Romney will get any better at presenting himself in the next couple of months, or make himself more likable. Can he learn how to be likable? I doubt it. My personal feeling is he’s like one of those guys we all know who try too hard to be friends and by doing so push other people away. But as stated in the McClatchy News article, Romney senior strategist Neil Newhouse “downplayed the [Obama] likability factor. ‘Likability doesn’t fix the economy. Likability isn’t helping the middle class.’

“And Newhouse pointed to the National Republican Convention in late August as a likely venue for showcasing Romney’s personal strengths. ‘People don’t really know Mitt Romney yet,’ he said. “By Election Day, I think they’re going to get a feel for who he is, what drives him.’”

Well, for Mr. Newhouse, getting to know Romney better might include letting us see his tax returns, so we can trust that he’s not lying to us or misrepresenting where his money is. It appears what drives him is money, acquiring it and keeping it. So far Mitt just isn’t doing that well with the likability or public-speaking-without-making-mistakes factors, the Richie Rich-factor, and now the foreign policy factor. If Mr. Newhouse factors those in, Barack Obama isn’t Mitt Romney’s opponent, Mitt Romney is Mitt Romney’s opponent.

No comments: