Romney and his Likability Gap — Will it sink him in November?

I’m making a big leap here, or maybe not so big, given the recent polls in Florida and the Gallup/USA Today electability poll for swing states.  Let’s assume that Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination for President and the right to face Obama in the general election.  Let’s also assume that he’s sufficiently comfortable with talking about his wealth by nomination time, and that questions roiling around Swiss bank accounts and the Cayman Islands are old news by August.  So that leaves us with Mitt’s biggest problem, and one that may yet prove to be his bane, and I don’t mean B-A-I-N.

In a recent post, I mentioned that Romney’s core problem is that he is trying to convince us that he is one of us, when he isn’t one of us.  I don’t have a problem with Romney’s wealth.  In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and suggest the majority of the voting populace doesn’t either.  It’s not like we’ve never had millionaire presidents before.  These days, unless you are a millionaire, you can’t afford to run for POTUS.  Therefore, it’s not the wealth issue that should churn the stomachs of Romney supporters, but rather his personality, which translates into likability.  For the independents, moderates, fed-up Democrats, and still-to-be-convinced conservatives out there, this is Romney’s biggest problem which could sink him in November.

Romney on Campaign Trail at Casa Marin, Hialeah, FL (you have to admit he's trying)

While the Romney campaign and its Super Pacs are effectively crushing all challengers, my concern is what was  articulated by Sarah Palin in her Face Book post.  Romney may win the battle but lose the war.  What decides this election will be turnout.  That means rallying the base.  But, and it’s a big but, will the Republican, grass roots base go along.  Will the TEA party come out in force because their desire to remove Barack Obama from office is greater than their (dis)like for Mitt Romney?

I am a reader and frequent contributor to RedState, a conservative website.   Passions are flying high and furiously as people debate the candidates’ positions among themselves on a number of issues.  When the questions is brought up about voting for Romney if he is the nominee, people will either “hold my nose when I pull the lever” or “never!!” “I’ll stay home.”  This does not bode well for the Romney team.

The contrast between CEO running for President versus Barack Obama, President, is not cavernous.   Obama clearly likes being out on the campaign trail and talking to people, as mentioned by David Axelrod, in today’s Meet the Press guest appearance.   Romney cannot rely on merely demonstrating the ineffectiveness of Obama’s record, he has to break through in his appeal to the average American.

JFK and FDR were both incredibly wealthy men, who came from a life of privilege, but through life’s experiences were able to meet and relate to the common American.  Mitt needs to convey similar life experiences to us mere American mortals.  I saw him stick his toe in the water of plebianism during a Bret Baier interview, when he talked about this wife, Ann’s multiple sclerosis.  We need more of these moments.  No, not voyeurism, but to see Mitt and his family in a context that the rest of us can relate to.   The only question left is , will he, before it’s too late.


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