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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Romney’s Likeability Gap, er… Chasm

Michael Tomasky ruminates at The Daily Beast on the likeability gap between President Obama and Governor Romney. Okay, it’s more like a chasm, as Tomasky points out:

…This is the biggest washout of modern times, folks. Gallup just this week put the likeability ratings at Obama 60, Romney 31. It’s not that Obama’s number is unusually high. Look back at those Kerry-Bush numbers. Americans are an open-hearted lot, at least presumptively, so they want to like the guy who’s going be the president. But they Do. Not. Like. Mitt. Romney.
It would be more interesting for all of us if there were some great mystery here, but there isn’t. He reeks of privilege. Every time he says something off the cuff he says something obnoxious. Corporations are people, pal. I like firing people. Where on earth did you get those Godforsaken cookies?

Then there’s the rich guy thing. Not the charming rich guy like JFK thing. More like the in-yer-face, flaunter-of-great-wealth thing:

…We’re constantly told that Americans don’t have any class envy, and compared to some European nations they don’t. But even Americans have limits. A few million, even $50 million; okay. But a quarter billion dollars? A house with an elevator . . . for the cars? It also matters to people how the money was made. It’s okay to be worth a gajillion dollars if you’re Bill Gates or Steve Jobs and have made everyone’s lives more interesting and cooler. But what’s Mitt Romney done? Helped give us Domino’s Pizza.
Even so, Romney might still pass muster, but he has no grasp of the one crucial reality of class in America: you can be filthy rich as long as you don’t look or act like it. Gates doesn’t comb his hair, much. Jobs wore sneakers. Romney just looks too pressed. Even when he’s wearing those jeans. You can look at Romney on television and practically sense how he smells–of costly ablutions whose brand names the rest of us probably don’t even know. And he acts relentlessly rich.

For Tomasky, Romney’s bully behavior in prep school fits the disturbing pattern. As Tomasky puts it, “Romney’s biggest problem. The likability factor. He ain’t got it. And he ain’t got much of a way to get it.”
Discouraging though it is that Romney is apparently the best the GOP can do at this political moment, there is an upside in all this, as Tomasky concludes: “…The black guy with the weird name who’s been called everything under the sun is twice as likeable as the rich white guy. This is the America that drives the wingers crazy, but that the rest of us–the majority–live in, and love.”

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