Monday, August 27, 2012

Mitt Romney should give up on trying to be liked

By Richard K. Barry

CNN/ORC has a poll out that says pretty much what all the polls are saying, which is that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are in a statistical dead heat among likely voters. The difference between the two candidates is in how voters perceive their personal characteristics:

According to the poll, 53% of likely voters say Obama cares about the needs of people, with 39% feeling the same way about the former Massachusetts governor. The president leads Romney in the poll by an equal margin when it comes to being in touch with the middle class. And six in ten say Obama is in touch with the problems facing women today, with just over three in ten feeling the same way about Romney.

For me, what is interesting is that while Obama has a big advantage on questions on "caring about people and understanding their concerns," Romney is still able to hang in there because people give him better numbers on his skills as a manager and having a plan to solve the countries problems. 

According to CNN Polling Director Keating Holland:

The challenge facing Romney at the GOP convention is to build on those managerial strengths while at the same trying to convince average Americans that he is in touch with their problems. Obama's personal characteristics, for the moment, outshine Romney's.

And that may well be Romney's challenge, but it is remarkable how well he continues to do with a significant segment of voters who don't think he relates to them or their problems but still want to put him in charge. Maybe I just don't get that. Are these people of the opinion that a rising tide lifts all boats so even if Mitt Romney is mostly in it for those who already have wealth and power that a few crumbs might fall off the table along the way for the rest of us?

If that is the case, I would suggest Romney give up on trying to make himself more likable. That's not going to happen. His only chance of winning would seem to be found in those numbers above. A lot of people don't like him and don't trust him but have bought into the idea that someone who has made himself a lot of money might know a few tricks that could, even if inadvertently, help the rest of us out. If he can convince a few more to embrace that logic, he could just win this thing.

 That's a hell of a way to run an election campaign.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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