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No More Mister Nice Guy

Obama squanders the likability factor.

May 28, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 35 • By FRED BARNES
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Yet Democrats continue to cite Obama’s likability as a political strength. Indeed, it once was. But no more. In the recent bipartisan Battle-ground Poll, nearly one-quarter of voters said they like Obama personally but disapprove of his policies. But here’s the rub: Sixty-eight percent of those voters said they won’t vote for Obama, and another 20 percent said they’ll “consider” someone else. Only 6 percent said they plan to vote for him.

“For the Democrats to focus on the likability factor at the current time, however, largely appears to be fool’s gold,” insists GOP pollsters Ed Goeas and Brian Nienaber.

Obama has a bigger problem: the growing assessment he’s simply incapable of reviving the nation. American Crossroads has conducted a series of focus groups with swing voters who backed Obama in 2008. Last fall, they reluctantly acknowledged he’d failed to solve the country’s problems, though they didn’t regard their vote for him as a mistake.

This spring, they’ve begun to render a tougher verdict: Obama may not be up to the job. Law says these swing voters won’t be attracted to Romney by negative attacks on the president. Instead, he must persuade them he can succeed where Obama hasn’t.

Obama’s continued decline is not inevitable. As Ayres points out, presidents win a second term when their job approval trends upward in the months before the election. This was true for Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, and could be for Obama. But he’ll need a far better campaign than we’ve seen so far—and a better presidency too. I’m not betting on it.

Fred Barnes is executive editor at The Weekly Standard.

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