Over the past several months we have seen a dramatic change in Barack Obama. He’s no longer Mister Hope and Change. Meet Mister Angry. His whole demeanor has gone from cool blue to hot red. He’s like one of those people who think that you need to yell at people who are blind or don’t understand English.
Americans elect men (no women yet) who they like. They liked Ronald Reagan and elected him twice. They like Bill Clinton and elected him twice. They liked George W. Bush and elected him twice. They liked Barack Obama and elected him once. The second time seems to be in question.
In a recent NY Times/CBS poll (of registered voters, not likely voters) there are some startling numbers buried deep within the data. In April, Obama’s favorability/unfavorability rating of 42/45. That by itself was shocking because his ratings several month before were much higher. Now his numbers have plummeted to low of 36/48, favorability/unfavorability.
The poll shows Romney with a 47% to 46% lead over the President. Remember this is a poll of registered voters. Likely voters tend to vote Republican. More importantly, 25% of those who voted for him in the poll no longer have a favorable view of Obama.
Some of his supporters will say that its due to the economy but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The approval ratings on his handling of the economy have been low for some time and are at 36% in the latest poll. It seems that the voters do not like the Mister Angry persona that Obama has adopted.
In order to carry out a credible negative campaign, the candidates are almost required to come across as angry with their opponent. The down side is that this persona as Mister Angry is diametrically opposed to his 2008 image as the optimistic, sunny Mister Hope and Change from 2008. As long as Mitt Romney stays above outright personal attacks, the voters will like him more and more.
A year ago, Obama’s personal favorability was ten points above his vote share in most polls. Now it is ten points below it presaging further erosion in his poll numbers. He has a serious problem. If he stops attacking Romney on meaningless issues, he will have to engage the former Massachusetts governor on the real issues of the campaign: the economy and jobs.
Once, Barack Obama comes out from behind the Mister Angry persona, voters will realize that he can’t help America and turn to Mitt Romney. We’ve seen this before in 1980 when Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were neck and neck until the end of the campaign. Then the undecideds made their decisions and voted en masse for Ronald Reagan.
Expect this election to move along the same track. As long as Romney maintains his cool and deflects spurious ad hominum attacks, the voters will increasingly come to realize that he’s the best man to rescue the country from the economic black hole.