Obama Should Be Trailing In The Polls ... But He Is Not

Obama is leading Romney in polls for two reasons: likeability and superior messaging. David Brooks at The New York Times has more:

The fundamentals suggest that Obama will go the way of Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy — incumbents who were trounced in hard times. And yet Obama isn’t on the same trajectory as other global leaders, left or right.

How has he stayed so competitive?

First, the Democrats’ demographic advantages are kicking in. The population segments that are solidly Democratic, like single women and the unchurched, are expanding. The segments that are more Republican — two-parent families and observant Catholics — are shrinking.

But most of the cause is personal. There’s an interesting debate over how much personal qualities matter in a presidential election. The evidence this year suggests: a lot. Take one contrast. According to a Fox News poll, only 36 percent of voters believe Obama has a clear plan for fixing the economy. But 48 percent approve of his performance. That means 12 percent of Americans approve of Obama even though they don’t think he has an agenda for moving us forward. In survey after survey, Obama is far more popular than his policies.

The key is his post-boomer leadership style. In 2008, Obama had that transcendent, messianic tone. This year, he has adopted a Clinton 1996 type of campaign — strong partisan attacks combined with an emphasis on small and medium-sized policies — like the Buffett Rule and student loans — intended to display his common man values. As a result, Obama has come off aggressive, but also, (unlike Romney) classless and in touch with middle-income groups.

"I'd say that Obama is a slight underdog this year: the scuffling economy will grind away at voters. But his leadership style is keeping him afloat. He has defined a version of manliness that is postboomer in policy but preboomer in manners and reticence."

Do you like this post?

Showing 1 reaction


published this page in In The News 2012-05-15 14:00:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy