In the End, Biden Will Win Because He is a Decent Human Being & Trump is a Deeply Flawed Man
There is an old political axiom that many voters ignore specific policy proposals, white papers, and platforms to vote for the candidate that they would like to have a beer with. That's shorthand for likability, a trait that's often lost among all the discussion of policy. And "likability" may not accurately or completely convey what voters are really responding to. I think that Americans want a president who they believe is a decent human being, a good, kind, and trustworthy individual.
It's often said that George W. Bush won reelection in 2004, despite the Iraq war debacle, because he was simply more likeable, more approachable, than John Kerry. Kerry was stiff and aloof, while W radiated affability. Most voters recognized that Bush had erred in taking us to war in Iraq and had botched the aftermath, but they believed that they were honest mistakes made in the service of the nation. That's why so many folks like to blame Dick Cheney for the mess in Iraq rather than W, despite quite a bit of evidence to the contrary.
Pollsters measure likability with "favorability" questions about candidates. In 2016, both Donald Trump's and Hillary Clinton's favorability ratings were underwater. Clinton carried a bit of a likability advantage into the final weeks of the campaign, but 54% of the electorate still viewed her unfavorably on election day.
This year, Joe Biden is winning the likability contest by quite a bit. Biden has a net positive favorability rating of plus 7, while Trump is still underwater by more than 11 percentage points. I suspect the reason is not a mystery to most folks. Uncle Joe is not the most articulate or inspiring candidate, but he has built a reputation as a kind, affable, caring human being who bases his decisions on the good of the nation. Even folks who don't like his policies generally don't question his motives or character. And, he's a guy that most people could easily picture themselves having a beer and sharing a laugh with after work.
On the other hand, even Trump voters complain that he is a blowhard and wish he would tone down his caustic rhetoric. His closest advisors view him as a dishonest and deeply flawed human being, lacking the character to lead the nation. And, what masochist would still want to have a beer with Donald Trump; it would certainly entail hours of listening to him exaggerate his conquests and lie about his accomplishments. He's the guy that no one wants to have a beer with after work.
So, how important is likability to a voter's choice for president. Consider this from research conducted by the Barbara Lee Family Foundation:
BLFF: "Voters, independent of their gender, overwhelmingly say it is important that they like an officeholder they support: 84% of men and 90% of women. People who hold strong partisan views, less educated voters, Latinas, and Southern women are the most likely to say it is very important to like an officeholder that they vote for or support."
If there is substance to the likability theory, Joe Biden should win on Nov. 3rd, by a lot.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content