John b. Judis’s post “Nobody Likes Mitt: The election is a popularity contest. And that’s OK.” at The New Republic has added resonance today, in the wake of Romney’s ill-considered comments that nearly half of Americans are “people who pay no income tax,” are “dependent upon government” and see themselves as “victims” who are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” Writing a few days before Romney’s latest blunder was outed, Judis noted:
…In public opinion surveys, what has jumped out for months is the large advantage that Obama enjoys over Romney on questions related to character and personality…In the same poll that Gallup found voters preferring Romney on the economy, it found that Obama enjoyed a 23 percentage-point edge on who is more “likeable,” a 16 point advantage in “who cares about the needs of people like you,” and a 12-point edge in who is more “honest and trustworthy.” Other polls show similar results. In four polls conducted from April 8 through September 9, The Washington Post and ABC found that voters by over two-to-one margins thought that Obama “seems the more friendly and likeable person.”
If the 2000 election had been decided entirely on specific policy grounds, Vice President Al Gore probably would have won fairly easily. But George W. Bush enjoyed a consistent edge on character questions. According to Gallup polls in October 2000, voters found Bush more likeable by 60 to 31 percent and more honest and trustworthy by 47 to 33 percent. In the 2004 election, Bush enjoyed a similar edge over challenger John Kerry. After the October 13 debate, CNN/Gallup found voters preferring Kerry on every measure except one: who was “more likeable.” Bush, not Kerry, went on to win the election.
It’s a good read. Pick it up here.