The Myth That Will Not Die
The Washington Post/ABC News poll asked voters "regardless of who (sic) you support, which candidate do you trust to do a better job handling" international affairs, taxes, health care policy, Medicare, the government health insurance program for senior; an unexpected major crisis.
President Obama leads Mitt Romney on each of the six measures, by an average margin of almost nine percentage points. On one measure, which candidate is trusted "to do a better job dealing with the federal budget deficit," Romney leads, 47%-44%. Overall, Obama leads Romney by nearly seven (7) percentage points on the seven indices.
The same Washington Post/ABC News survey asks registered voters for whom they are likely to vote, and Obama leads by 7% (only 3% among likely voters), which correlates exactly with opinions on which will probably handle those issues better. But when asked whether whether the registered voter believes Mitt Romney is "honest and trustworthy," only 40% answer in the affirmative while 56% answer in the negative, a deficit of 16%. Similarly, when queried whether they think "as president" Romney "would do more to favor the middle class or more to favor the wealthy," only 31% select the middle class while 58% select the wealthy (5% believe "equally," 8% don't know).
So we have a huge plurality of registered voters believing the Republican nominee is not honest and trustworthy and that he is more likely to "favor" the wealthy than the middle class. And in this same group- registered voters- Barack Obama, the man the media tells us everyone likes so much personally, is up by.... a whopping 7 percentage points.
A true Beltway guy, blogger and pundit Chris Cillizza, observes at that very newspaper (The Washington Post) on whose behalf the poll was taken
In a poll in which the two candidates are separated by a handful of points on virtually every question, the massive canyon on likability stands out. Sixty percent of registered voters said that Obama was the more "friendly and likable" person while 30 percent chose Romney. (Among likely voters, it was 58 percent for Obama, 32 percent for Romney.)
He asks "will likability make up undecideds' minds?"
Yes, it would, Chris- if it were true that voters believe Barack Obama is a wonderful human being.
Likability does have an effect on voting decisions; if it did not, we wouldn't be subjected to the "who would you rather have a beer with?" or similar questions. And it almost certainly would have a particularly large effect on the decision of a voter who at this late date is still undecided.
But, sorry, Chris... and most of the media... and most Americans, Democratic or Republican or Independent/Unaffiliated. Americans simply are not into Barack Obama as a person (even before the last debate). So many voters really, really seem to believe that the nation proved it is not racist when it elected Barack Obama as President. Then, they are asked if that same black man is honest and trustworthy, and opinion-makers somehow find it impressive that 56% say 'yes' and only 40% say 'no.'
Let's be honest, shall we? Hard-core conservative Republicans (a majority of the species), of course, will answer in the negative- they think the worst of Obama. But tugging at the minds, and consciences, of a lot of white Americans is: I can't say I don't like or don't trust our first black President. It's what they sense they are supposed to believe.
It's how we roll in the U.S.A. And if that weren't the case, if people really did like Obama as much as they claim- given obvious personal distaste for Romney and confidence the incumbent would handle most issues in a superior fashion- this wouldn't be a horse race. This would be a rout.