Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Will 'Likability' Re-Elect Obama? Don't Bet On It.

William McGurn has a fine column at the Wall Street Journal about President Obama, Mitt Romney and the so-called "likability" factor that keeps showing Obama more likable in recent polls.
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."
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.
Click here to read the entire column.

1 comment:

Josh said...

I respectfully disagree with this analysis. Whatever likeability Carter and H.W. Bush may have had, their respective re-election opponents were far more so.

Romney can't pull off the "guy you'd want to have a beer with" act the way Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan could. He just can't. And every time he tries to do so, he comes off as very awkward, forced and phony.

Romney is who he is. His best shot is to play the competence card and say "we've tried having a President who was charismatic and an inspiring orator and look where that got us." Then let the chips fall where they may.