Obama tops Romney 64-26 for more “friendly and likable”

New Washington Post/ABC poll out today, showing President Obama leading Romney by 51%-44% overall, and… 64%-26% for who is more “friendly and likable.”

If you think that latter stat belongs in the category of “silly fluff,” think again.  Go through the last several elections, forget politics, and just ask yourself, who came across as more friendly and likable?

  • 2008: Obama v McCain
  • 2004: Bush v Kerry
  • 2000: Bush v Gore
  • 1996: Clinton v Dole
  • 1992: Clinton v Bush
  • 1988: Bush v Dukakis
  • 1984: Reagan v Mondale
  • 1980: Reagan v Carter
  • 1976: Carter v Ford
  • 1972: McGovern v Nixon

Go ahead and venture your own opinion, but if you want mine… I’ve offered it above by putting the more friendly and likable candidate (IMHO) first.  And guess what?  In the last 9 elections, the more friendly and likable one was also the winner.  You need to go back to 1972 to find a winner, Nixon, who (again, IMHO) was less friendly and likable than the opponent.

Now, granted, it might be that people decide which candidate they like better on the basis of policy and substantive grounds, and THEN decide they “like” that person more.  But I doubt it.  I think this is just another version of the “who would you rather have a beer with” question.

Why might there be a connection between likability and winning?  Well, my hunch is that it comes down to the swing voters.  Voters who are part of the base — Democratic or Republican — already have strong opinions on issues of a partisan nature.  Those in the middle, however, tend to have more flexible opinions, and (it’s my hunch) that the tipping point for them one way or another will be a question of who they like, who they trust, etc.

The proof is in the pudding, and we’ll see when the election is actually held, but… my guess is that if President Obama is still viewed as more friendly and likable, he’ll be the winner.


About John Hlinko

John Hlinko is a frequent political pundit on TV, and the founder of Left Action, a network of over 1 million activists. He is also the author of, "Share, Retweet, Repeat: Get Your Message Read and Spread," ranked by Amazon.com as the # 1 "hot new release" in web marketing in early 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook
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3 Responses to Obama tops Romney 64-26 for more “friendly and likable”

  1. Anthony L. DeWitt says:

    I think your analysis severely oversimplifies the way independent voters make up their minds. One of the things that contributes to likeability is the campaign that’s run. Obama did not have to run against Super Pac Ads that will cast him as a socialist and communist. This time he does. It is scary to see the right demonizing a guy who has just tried to be the most centrist president in the last 40 years. The right is defining extreme as the norm, and it scares the heck out of me. I do hope that your analysis is correct, but I worry that the campaign of negative ads soon to be loosed on the airwaves will, in effect, wash out some of that likability.

    • John Hlinko says:

      I’d agree it’s not true of all independents for sure. I’ve met many who really think this stuff through critically. Though I must say I’ve met a lot as well who seem to end up picking the guy with better hair. 🙂

      Agree 100%, however, on the Super PAC ads. They are going to be BRUTAL.

  2. brenda w says:

    You’re giving me hope.

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