The Campaign Spot

The Suddenly Missing Favorability Gap

Much of today’s Morning Jolt is about my taping of a Hannity episode last night. The show will air at 9 p.m. Eastern tonight, and is all about Obama’s autobiography, Dreams From My Father. You may be wondering why Sean Hannity’s devoting an hour to a book that was published in 1995 and that has been a bestseller since 2004. As our host pointed out at the top of the show, no one would argue that Obama’s younger years, and the minds and forces that shaped him, are the preeminent issue in this election. They are certainly behind the economy and national security, and many voters may have other concerns that they place before they think about the topics covered in Dreams from My Father.

But one of the big reasons President Obama finds himself within a few points of Mitt Romney is the gap between what he promised and what he delivered.  As Obama addressed when he spoke to a disappointed donor, “I’m running against the Barack Obama of 2008.” So why is there that gap? (Besides the fact that immanentizing the Eschaton has always proven tougher in practice than in theory.) Why is what Obama delivered so different from what he promised? Isn’t it fair, considering the poor job the press did in examining much of his life, to ask if Obama is just a fundamentally different man than the image that was presented to the country in 2008?

Also in the Jolt is a quick note on Barack Obama helping Mitt Romney with his turnout efforts in South Florida, and then this sudden development:

The Suddenly Much More Likable Mitt Romney

I wrote above that the Obama campaign needs America to detest Romney. Gallup’s numbers indicate the movement is in the other direction: “Fifty percent of Americans now have a favorable opinion of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, up from 39% in February and his highest by 10 percentage points. His current 41% unfavorable rating, though, leaves him with a net score of +9, after being at -8 in February.”

At Powerline, John Hinderacker concludes, “So Republicans who may have favored another candidate didn’t want to be fulsome in expressing their feelings about Romney to pollsters, but now that he is the nominee they are coming around. As for independents, Romney probably benefits both from being the nominee and from the fact that they are now starting to get a look at him. (It is easy to lose sight of the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans do not spend their evenings watching presidential primary debates.) Romney is ahead of Obama in net approval in this poll, +9 to +6. Here is where I think Romney has a lot of up-side: there are still a lot of independents who have seen little of him. Many of them won’t really tune in until the fall. When they do form an impression of Romney, I think it is highly likely to be positive, as Romney comes across as reasonable, competent and likable. So I will be surprised if this comparison does not continue trending in his favor from now until the election.”

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