It should not come as a surprise, but Mitt Romney has a likability gap.
A recent Pew poll showed that around half of registered voters consider Barack Obama likable while around half consider Mitt Romney unlikable. Link here.
Several explanations offer themselves. The Obama attack machine has been scoring hits on Romney. The mainstream media has become an arm of the Obama campaign and presents the attacks as gospel truth. Many people simply do not know Mitt Romney well enough to form an opinion so they tend to latch on to whatever seems like the conventional wisdom.
There is one more possible reason: Mitt Romney is just not very likable.
Perhaps people remember the primary campaign. Perhaps they recall Romney’s ruthless attacks on his fellow Republicans, his scorched earth tactics. If that’s the way you treat your friends, how do you treat people who are not your friends?
Romney seemed to count on the fact that he could behave any which way in the primary and that Republicans would be forced to rally to him because they want so badly to defeat Barack Obama.
He did not consider that half-hearted support does not increase your likability. It looks as though the people supporting you are swallowing a bitter pill, not that they are happy to be on your side.
One needs to consider that spurious, specious and slanderous charges are more likely to stick when people don’t have a very good feeling for the candidate in the first place.
Serious political analysts insist that these attacks need to be answered, straightforwardly and forthrightly.
Romney understands this, yet he has chosen as a spokesman someone who is even less likeable than he is, John Sununu.
How many Republicans are going to thrill to the knowledge that the man who helped put David Souter on the Supreme Court has returned from the political dead to represent Mitt Romney.
But still, how can the American people not like Mitt Romney? He has lived a picture-perfect life: he has a loving wife and family; he has achieved significant business success; he is rich and famous.
How is it possible that people do not like such an exemplary human being? If he had had three wives we would understand, but he has the perfect family life and is virtuous to a fault… what’s not to like?
For my part I do not think that Romney is suffering because he has an empathy deficit.
Surely, a moderately savvy political advisor could help Romney to explain to the people that it’s better to have a president who can solve your problems than a president who can feel the pain he is inflicting by not solving your problems.
If I may be so bold, Romney’s problem is not his persona or his personality. It lies in the fact that no one knows what he stands for. No one knows what policies he would use to guide his presidency.
Romney is not running on his record as governor of Massachusetts because his signature achievement, Romneycare is barely distinguishable from Obamacare.
He is running on competence, but competence is not a policy. Worse yet, he is running on being Mitt Romney. The American people want someone who is going to work for them, not someone who thinks that he is honoring them by his presence.
As I see it, Mitt Romney looks and sounds too much like a robo-candidate, someone who says what he needs to say in order to win.
In the end you do not know what a robo-candidate really believes in. You do not know how he will govern.
If he refuses to tell you, or worse, does not know how he would govern, then he is showing contempt for the electorate. Such an attitude is not very likable.
Romney needs to let people know his political philosophy. He needs to say where he stands on important economic issues.
There must be more to his campaign than Mitt Romney’s business record. After all, the federal government is not a business and the president is not a private equity investor.
If voters believe that Mitt Romney is so arrogant and cynical that he has not thought through what the job is and what it entails, they might end up voting for him and the lesser of two evils, but they will not be rallying to his cause or affirming his agenda.