At Hot Air, Karl asks “Does Obama’s personal favorability rating matter?” He quotes from several MSM writers who claim that Obama’s falling performance ratings (as in “he’s doing a bad job”) are irrelevant, because people continue to award him high personal favorability numbers (as in, “I really like the man”). Karl begs to differ. He contends that likeability may help at the margins, but if Obama’s performance ratings continue in the doldrums, history indicates that he cannot win.
I’d like to add a new idea to the mix (and it is only an idea, because it’s virtually impossible to prove): I wonder whether Obama’s personal favorability rating is based upon a series of self-serving lies.
Think of it. You’re a nice, ordinary American, well-schooled in PC thought. The phone rings. The person on the other end, a person who sounds as if he or she comes from a lower soci0-economic rung (and you know that’s the case, because wealthy people don’t man poll lines), announces that you’ve been selected to take a poll about the president. You preen yourself. This is your moment to have your say.
Then comes the first question, which is some variation of “Do you like the president personally?” Your first instinct is to say “No,” or “He’s a terrible disappointment,” or “He’s arrogant,” or “I think he’s an idiot,” or something else negative — but then you stop yourself. What if the person on the other end is black? The O.J. Simpson trial left open the question of whether you can tell a person’s race by his voice. Maybe you should keep your opinion to yourself. And even if the person isn’t black, you’re pretty sure (because the media’s schooled you to think this way) that it’s a bad thing to dislike Obama. The only reason people could dislike Obama, you’ve been told repeatedly, is because they are raaacists. You’re a good person, and you don’t want anyone, even an anonymous pollster at the other end of the telephone line, to think that you’re racist. So, in answer to the question about whether you like Obama personally, you stifle your instincts and squeak out “Yes.”
After that, the questions are easier, because they’re not personal. Your answers settle comfortably into the “Of course I like him, but he could be doing better at….” category. That’s not racist. That’s just being specific about objective factors. You can see the American economy crumbling around you. You’re also aware that the world outside our borders seems to be going to Hell in a hand basket — and you’re afraid we might be heading down that road too. The fact that you’re supposed to like Obama (because, hey, you’re no racist) doesn’t affect your ability to rate his performance objectively.
So I agree with Karl that Obama’s personal favorability ratings probably won’t be an issue in 2012. But I believe this, not because the other numbers are more important, but because I’m pretty sure the favorability numbers are, in many cases, based on face-saving lies in a PC world.