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Obama’s triumph of personality

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:45 pm - November 14, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

A blog posts and a Wall Street Journal op-ed remind us that last week’s election was as much a battle of personalities as it was one of ideas. Bookworm links (and builds upon) Abe Greenwald’s insight into “how conservatives misread the election outcome”:

Obama got reelected because he enjoys a degree of personal popularity disconnected from his record. No modern president has ever been returned to office with employment figures and right-track-wrong-track numbers as poor as those Obama has achieved. . . .

The president’s reelection is not evidence of a new liberal America, but rather of the illogical and confused experience that is infatuation. For multiple reasons, Americans continue to have a crush on Barack Obama even after his universally panned first term. No longer quite head over heels, they’re at the “I know he’s no good for me, but I can change him” phase.

Read both whole things.  Like Greenwald, Andrew Kohut also thinks we are misreading the election returns:

. . . most observers are overstating the gravity of the GOP’s problem. In particular, they are paying too little attention to how weak a candidate Mitt Romney was, and how much that hurt Republican prospects.

Here is what the exit poll found. Mr. Romney’s personal image took a hard hit during the primary campaign and remained weak on election day. Just 47% of exit-poll respondents viewed him favorably, compared with 53% for Mr. Obama. Throughout the campaign, Mr. Romney’s favorable ratings were among the lowest recorded for a presidential candidate in the modern era. A persistent problem was doubt about his empathy with the average voter.

The brutal Republican primary followed by a quarter-billion dollar barrage of Democratic attack ads helped reduce Romney’s favorables.  Combine the persistence of Obama’s personal appeal with the failure of Romney to convince a majority of voters he cared about them.

And bear in mind that in exit polls, of the qualities that matter most to voters, more thought Romney was  stronger leader than Obama, a greater number thought he shared their values more than Obama did and had a better vision for the future than did the Democrat, but those who thought caring about them was the most important quality, Obama beat Romney by a 4-to-1 margin.

Simply put, the next Republican presidential candidate will have to do a better job showing that he cares.

For now, we can conclude that Obama’s victory last week was more personal than it was ideological.



  1. A blog posts and a Wall Street Journal op-ed remind us that last week’s election was as much a battle of personalities as it was one of ideas.

    I disagree. This election was overwhelmingly about something other than ideas. Most of the ideas were had by conservative Romney supporters and probably also progressive Obama supporters who thought Obama wasn’t far left enough but obviously wouldn’t vote for a Republican.

    The Republicans should look for ways to make future elections about ideas before they compromise their principles and try to appeal to idiots who only care about personality or how much the politicians say they care about them. That will be easier without Obama having such an advantage in time (hopefully).

    Comment by Rattlesnake — November 14, 2012 @ 7:17 pm - November 14, 2012

  2. Obama is a family man, he and his wife seem to have a strong yet .public bond. He has two young daughters who he appears to dote on. He likes beer, a pick up game of basketball, talks trash to Packer fans about his Bears and likes the South Side Sox.

    There is a lot to like about him and he does not deserve the hate filled rants that many on the right throw at him.

    Now if only he can cut spending and save the economy!

    Comment by mike — November 14, 2012 @ 7:18 pm - November 14, 2012

  3. There is a lot to like about him and he does not deserve the hate filled rants that many on the right throw at him.

    There is also a lot to dislike about him (such as his incompetence, his leftism, his corruption, etc), and that stuff thends to trump all the things you mentioned. Only morons make politics personal.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — November 14, 2012 @ 7:23 pm - November 14, 2012

  4. That is, only morons make politics about stuff that has nothing to do with policy or character (that does not include personality or family).

    Comment by Rattlesnake — November 14, 2012 @ 7:26 pm - November 14, 2012

  5. @mike: hey, hitler loved his dogs…he wasn’t ALL bad ! sheesh.

    the quote from greenwald is right on. check out arrianna huffington’s latest post for evidence of the “we can change him” phase of the romance.

    Comment by el polacko — November 14, 2012 @ 7:38 pm - November 14, 2012

  6. I love watching the deluded cultist and concern troll mike demonstrate for on e and for all what an insane, deluded hypocrite he is.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — November 14, 2012 @ 7:58 pm - November 14, 2012

  7. I disagree with the point of the post. Obama isn’t popular. He lost millions of votes comparted to 2008. And the people that I talked to who voted for him, cringed about their vote and admitted it wasn’t great.

    Obama squeaked by, not because of his ideas AND not because He is popularly beloved, but because:

    (1) Romney was weak – couldn’t close the sale with minority voters and with marginal white GOP voters, couldn’t fight back against Obama’s negative/demonzing tactics;
    (2) GOP polling operation was, we now know, off, so Romney campaign did not deal with the realities;
    (3) Media had a very heavy thumb on the scale: carefully blacking out relevant information (that reflected badly on Obama) before the election, information that is begnning to flow a bit more now; and carefully expanding on complete nonsense if the nonsense would help Obama;
    (4) White guilt: even knowing that Obama is incompetent and inadmirable, people still felt like they should give Him another chance;
    (5) The increasing ‘moocher’ factor: people dependent on the government, knowing their ‘ride’ was at stake.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — November 14, 2012 @ 8:52 pm - November 14, 2012

  8. You are correct, ILC. But also, you can’t leave out the fact that Mitt Romney… a good, decent, patriotic man … was smeared relentlessly by the left’s Warp-Powered-Hate-Machine.

    Comment by V the K — November 14, 2012 @ 8:54 pm - November 14, 2012

  9. Well yeah V…. see (1), (2) and (3), which I tried to make inclusive of that.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — November 14, 2012 @ 8:56 pm - November 14, 2012

  10. OK, yeah, I see your point ILC.

    Now, I am going to make a suggestion for the GOP, and you all know damb well I’m not a concern troll, so this is real advice.

    Next time around, as part of the primary vetting process, Republican candidates should not just have to answer questions about policy, but about campaign strategy, so we can see if they are tough enough and smart enough to survive the hate and smears. For example:

    1. “How do you plan to run a more effective ground game than Mitt Romney?”

    2. “When a liberal reporter or debate moderator asks you about abortion-rape, how are you going to respond?”

    3. “What is your strategy for getting your message to the people, knowing the mainstream media will lie and fight you every step of the way?”

    Maybe adding strategic questions to the vetting will help you guys (Republicans) avoid nominating another sure loser.

    Comment by V the K — November 14, 2012 @ 9:16 pm - November 14, 2012

  11. Don’t tell the State Controlled Media but the US is actually trending Republican since 2008 and we have the Raw Data and maps to prove it!

    Comment by Steve — November 14, 2012 @ 9:20 pm - November 14, 2012

  12. Whether to like or respect my president is a false choice. I don’t need to like him but I respect the office.

    Comment by Ignatius — November 14, 2012 @ 11:07 pm - November 14, 2012

  13. We need to go on the offensive immediately out of the gate. Political shock and awe. We need to attack the Dems at their top ten weakest points: 10. Every city that is democratic controlled is a mess. 9. Every state that is democrat controlled is a mess. 8. More money spent per public school student than ever in history and kids cannot spell. 7. Shrinking middle class. 6. Racial division. 5. Loss of liberty. 4. Shrinking military. 3. Repeated abuse of women in their ranks. 2. Job loss. 1. Chicago!

    Comment by AZ Mo in NYC — November 15, 2012 @ 12:45 am - November 15, 2012

  14. Mike,

    We on the Right are giving as much support as the Democrats and their protester allies gave to Bush during his Administration.

    I await the apologies for their hypocrisy.

    Comment by JSF — November 15, 2012 @ 4:52 am - November 15, 2012

  15. mike,

    Did hear that Obama took Malia to a Bears game and Tim Jennings knocked up during half time?

    Kneeslap, rimshot, BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA

    Comment by heliotrope — November 15, 2012 @ 11:35 am - November 15, 2012

  16. What are we saying that Mitt was the strongest in a field of weak candidates? Who else was there? My first choice was Donald Trump, when bowed out it was Herman Cain. That was the time it was anybody else but Romney. When Herman chose not to fight Axelrod´s dupe, I turned to Newt. He had the Contract With America success to recommend him. But Romney submarined him in Florida. At that time Romney looked like he could take on Obama. Even then, Obama´s likeability factor clouded over all his failings. And that turned out to be the one and most important of the factors that got him elected.

    The second factor in Obama´s triumph was that early on the left defined Mitt and Mitt failed to respond. The super pacs marshalled their resources for the final push instead of answering the negatives and RNC couldn´t make its resources available until the convention ratifed Romney as candidate.

    The third, and very important, was that after the election in 2008, Obama kept his campaign offices open and the workers kept in contact with their supporters. Campaign 2012 started in November of 2008. Where did Obama get the money to keep all those campaign offices open? My guess is George Soros. What will happen to those offices now that Obama is termed out, (assuming that by decree he grants himself an extention until 2020)? Will the DNC take over those offices or the states or Democratic Central Committees? The lesson for the Republican who should be lucky enough to be elected President in2016 is to do likewise. Start the 2020 campaign in 2016 by keeping the office open and workers keeping in contact with Republican and indepèndent voters.

    In the meantime, County and State Republican County Central Committees should start voter registration drives now and hold them on a regular basis instead of waiting for when bounties are paid for registration. I suggest the slogan should be: Having buyer´s remorse for having voted for Obama? Register Republican here.

    Comment by Roberto — November 15, 2012 @ 1:28 pm - November 15, 2012

  17. Democrats refuse to reform entitlements, reject any non-military spending cuts. Concern troll mike hardest hit.

    Comment by V the K — November 15, 2012 @ 1:45 pm - November 15, 2012

  18. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a rising Republican star who stumped for Mitt Romney repeatedly on the campaign trail, assailed the failed presidential candidate for his remarks to donors on Wednesday that President Obama was reelected because of “gifts” to minorities, young people, and women.

    “I think that’s absolutely wrong,” Jindal said later Wednesday at a news conference in Las Vegas at a meeting of the Republican Governors Association. “We have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent.“

    Comment by rusty — November 15, 2012 @ 2:31 pm - November 15, 2012

  19. “2.Obama is a family man, he and his wife seem to have a strong yet .public bond. He has two young daughters who he appears to dote on.”

    yeah only a doting father would bring his children to Rev Wright racist church to hear racial politics and hate speech against a race.

    Only a doting father would say that he doesn’t want his daughter punished with a baby (which would be incidentally his nephew).

    Such a fine example of ideal father.

    I suppose mike you are outraged at the slander thrown at Ann Romney and Romney’s sons. There is a youtube video about a 3 min interview with Romney’s sons, they talk about their mother, when they were younger, and how she copes with multiple sclerosis. 90% of the comments are hate filled leftists that swear Ann Romney’s disease is a fabrication. She lies to get sympathy.

    I guess you are fine with it, as well with whatever was thrown at Bush and Laura and children. Let’s not mention Sara Palin’s treatment. This is your side mike, I believe you should clean up your own garbage in your own house first.

    Tell me again, what are you doing on this blog beside trolling? Is axelscum still paying you to troll conservative sites?

    Comment by susan — November 15, 2012 @ 10:21 pm - November 15, 2012

  20. I believe you should clean up your own garbage in your own house first.

    ^^^^^^^ This ^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    But mike really doesn’t care how corrupt and degenerate his Democrat Party is.

    Comment by V the K — November 15, 2012 @ 11:19 pm - November 15, 2012

  21. Barack Obama won the election.

    He did not win by stealing the election. … He won by turning out the most people in a well run campaign. In other words, he won fair and square.

    Too many people have spent the past four years obsessed with birth certificates. Now they are obsessed with voter fraud conspiracies, talk of secession, and supposed election changing news stories if only we had known.

    So let’s add dabblers in this latest nuttiness to birthers as a category of people ….”

    Comment by Passing By — November 16, 2012 @ 12:06 am - November 16, 2012

  22. Passing gas, we are not even close to what you did when bush won

    Still you are a piece of shit, good representation of your party. People who vilify down syndrome kids and women with me.

    This is you. Own it

    Comment by susan — November 16, 2012 @ 2:34 am - November 16, 2012

  23. Still you are a piece of shit, good representation of your party. People who vilify down syndrome kids and women with me.

    This is you. Own it”

    Comment by Passing By — November 16, 2012 @ 8:28 pm - November 16, 2012

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