McGurn is warning that Republicans shouldn't obsess on the likability of either candidate and he also cautions the GOP against trying to make Obama dislikable.
He points in part to 1980 when Jimmy Carter (he of the toothy grin) seemed to be likable enough but was still handily defeated by Ronald Reagan. And it's true -- many people still like Jimmy Carter (and George H. W. Bush for that matter) and both (one a Democrat, the other a Republican) were nonetheless turned out of office. They were generally likable but the voters rejected them and chose somebody new anyway.
Anyway, here's an excerpt from McGurn's column:
In 1980, Ronald Reagan zeroed in on Jimmy Carter's competence. Plenty of Americans thought President Carter was a good and decent man too—but by election day Mr. Reagan had persuaded them that his rival just wasn't up to the job. The day after that election, Mr. Reagan's pollster, Richard Wirthlin, explained the campaign this way: "We saw the opportunity for a role reversal—that is, by the end of the campaign, I think we came very close to having people look upon Ronald Reagan as more presidential than Jimmy Carter."Click here to read the entire column.
Mr. Romney now has a similar opportunity. Certainly he can point out that Mr. Obama has no excuses. If ever the stars were in alignment for liberal Democratic policies to shine, it was during the first two years of Mr. Obama's presidency, after he had handily defeated John McCain and been sent to Washington with huge, veto-proof majorities in Congress.
Mr. Romney already has the votes of those who dislike Mr. Obama. The votes he needs are there for the asking: folks who like Mr. Obama but have serious doubts about his leadership as president.