The Campaign Spot

Is the Media Overhyping the ‘Likeability’ Factor?

From my appearance on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” yesterday, discussing the coverage of Romney in London.

And discussing whether the media overhypes the “likeability” factor:



In the segment about the “likeability” factor, I noticed that most presidential candidates — including some successful challengers — had pretty mediocre “favorable” numbers in public polling. (Nate Silver does a nice job of compiling the historical averages from the New York Times/CBS News poll here.)

In June 1992, after months of pounding on alleged draft dodging and tales of Gennifer Flowers, Bill Clinton had a favorability rating of 16 percent. Ronald Reagan in 1980, on the way to a big win, merely 42 percent. George W. Bush in 2000, 37 percent. George H.W. Bush, 34 percent. These were not spectacular numbers.

And that, of course, even presumes that the likeability gap is still there; the New York Times/CBS News poll showed the two candidates about even: “Both candidates have net unfavorable ratings. Forty-eight percent of registered voters view the president unfavorably, while 36 percent view him favorably. Romney is viewed unfavorably by 36 percent and favorably by 32 percent. Nearly one in three say they do not yet have an opinion about the presumptive Republican nominee.”

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