McGurn: Romney’s Leadership Trumps Obama’s Likability

William McGurn is an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal — he writes the “Main Street” column for the Journal. Two days ago, he wrote “The ‘Likable’ Barack Obama”

Mr. Obama on Cloud 9 / Photo: AP


Subtext:

In 1980, Ronald Reagan zeroed in on the incompetence of Jimmy Carter, a good and decent man. That should be Mitt Romney’s strategy in 2012.

Between now and November 6th, I expect to see many comparisons to the Carter/Reagan contest of 1980; there are just too many similarities to ignore. However, I think Obama will eventually be critiqued by historians as a greater failure by comparison. That said, we can never allow ourselves to become complacent in our work to elect Mitt Romney as our next president.

There are tens of millions of voters out there that will vote on a smile, charisma, a good speech, and “likability.” Barack Obama can never be underestimated.

By WILLIAM MCGURN

How likable is Barack Obama?

Very likable, it seems, at least in contrast to his GOP rival. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released a few days ago, Americans by a more than 2-to-1 ratio say the president is more “friendly and likable” than Mitt Romney.

Look at the photo above — what’s not to like? In this American Idol age in which image is everything, it is no wonder that the casual voter will feel perfectly fine voting for the one they think they know rather than for the new guy. Especially if the new guy likes the Red Sox.

Many Republicans, and especially conservatives, can find these numbers hard to credit. Some note that the poll sampling favors Democrats and thus artificially inflates the president’s numbers. Still others have come to dislike President Obama so much that it makes them suspicious when they read numbers indicating they are in the minority.

The focus on likability is a mistake. It’s a mistake, first, for Democrats if they believe likability will be enough for Mr. Obama to win re-election come November. It’s even more of a mistake for those Republicans who believe that the only way to defeat the president is to get fellow Americans to dislike him as much as they do.

McGurn referred to “the unwitting arrogance” of Hilary Rosen and how the Obama administration trashed her in order not to appear connected to her.

Republicans ought not make this mistake with Mr. Obama. When Americans look at the president, many see a loving father with personal values they admire and an attractive wife and children. The administration understands this, which is why a recent Internet campaign ad asking voters to “help the Obamas stand up for working Americans” did so over a photo of the president, his wife and his two daughters.

I have seen this ad all over the Internet. It is most appealing. Mr. Obama is a nice guy!

Resurgent Republic, a conservative-leaning public research firm, found the same likability at work in recent focus groups of independents who had voted for Mr. Obama in 2008. The good news for Mr. Obama is that “these Obama Independents still like the president.”

The bad news for him is that “[w]hen asked what they like most about the president, participants refer almost solely to personal traits like his character and speaking skills. At best, they credit President Obama for trying.”

That helps explain why the same poll that showed the president more likable than Mr. Romney went on to report that a majority nonetheless thought the former Massachusetts governor would do a better job with the economy.

I would like to speak to one person who thinks that Mr. Obama would do a better job with the economy over Governor Romney — I have not met one yet.

Mr. Obama ought to be worried. Sixty-four percent also say the country is on the wrong track; [...] a number of Americans who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 are open to the idea that someone else could do a better job.

Now, the president’s likability doesn’t mean Mr. Romney shouldn’t go on the offensive. It does mean he ought to attack hardest where Mr. Obama is at his weakest: his failed policies. [...]

He also suggests conservatives drive home Obama’s incompetence.

Mr. Romney is hardly the first Republican presidential aspirant to take that tack against a Democratic incumbent. 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.

[emphasis added]

“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Humor? (hat tip to Steve Miller from Wisconsin for this image below the fold)

About Victor Lundquist:

Victor is a businessman working in the healthcare industry. He and his wife of 33 years have five children and four grandchildren. Vic has been blogging for Mitt Romney since 2007.
View Posts | View Profile

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to McGurn: Romney’s Leadership Trumps Obama’s Likability

  1. Cindy Lundquist says:

    Excellent article. Sums up my feelings exactly. Obama is a good family man and has a great smile. Even though I didn’t vote for Obama, I remember the night of Obama’s inauguration hoping he would be able to lead our country, and execute, and unite our country in a positive way. His first two years were his time to shine, and we are now more divided and in a dangerous financial state. Independants and Reagan Democrats will see clearly through the distortions and false media from the liberal Democrats. We are too great of a nation to fail.

    Time for President Romney to right the ship.

  2. nicholas nickleby says:

    My question is who is McGover writing this for?

    Does he not think the Romney team knows this? All I have seen team Romney do is attack the incompetence of President Obama.

    Where has he deviated from this?

  3. John says:

    you guy just don’t know the meaning of Obama smiling and you still happy with him and believe him but he smiling because the Kenya’s visitor kid was the president of the United Stated of America as his father dream in his book that he can laughing attacking America around the world that is it, but the true he can lead this great country even he make it worse because he has no experienced to do it, this great country need a true leadership,an experienced leader like Mitt,only that kind of leader can lead this great country for prosperity.

  4. nicholas nickleby says:

    John,

    I must have not been clear.

    I love that Mitt is pointing out the failures of President Obama.

    What I was saying is that team Romney is already doing this, so who is McGover writing the article for.

  5. ccr says:

    I realize……….and I’m sure I’m not the only one…………..that Obama is NOT inept or inexperienced …….he’s intentional in what has been done.

    Romney is handling this wisely by not attacking Pres. Obama personally ……just his record and qualifications despite Michelle Malkin’s “advice”. Mitt is doing quite well without the advice of those who trashed him during the primary, thank you.

  6. Roxanne says:

    It’s difficult for me to use the word “likeable” in the same sentence as “Obama”. My rabid disdain for the man, alone, probably results in a huge dent in his overall “likeability” quotient.