On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney has been trying to dispel the feeling that he is a corporate robot. He still has a long way to go.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll published Tuesday, Romney, the likely Republican nominee, is not nearly as charming or relatable as the incumbent he would be up against in the fall. The gap with Barack Obama is big enough that the likability factor would greatly harm him in the general election unless he can stop making the awkward rich-guy jokes and come across more as a regular American.
Never mind that Romney won favor on issues of the economy, handling the federal budget deficit and energy, or that Obama trumped his potential rival on women's and social issues, foreign policy and handling terrorism. I won't bore you with talk about policy -- because when Americans finally make it to the voting booth, many end up voting for the guy they'd more likely like to hang out with. Understandably, many voters find a candidate in tune with regular folks knows what's best for the country.
That's why this part of the poll is the most interesting:
Sixty-four percent of poll participants said -- regardless of whom they will support in the general election -- that Obama seemed more friendly and likable, while 26 percent chose Romney. That's a 38-point difference. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they found Obama to be more inspiring, while only 29 percent thought Romney fit the description.
Furthermore, the voters thought that Obama was the stronger leader (46 to Romney's 40 percent), has a clearer vision for the future (45 percent to Romney's 40 percent) and is more consistent in his positions (46 to 36 percent). Nineteen percent said Romney's wealth was a major factor to oppose him, although 71 percent said it was not a reason.
And although Romney led on Obama on fiscal issues, 49 percent still said Obama better understands the economic problems people in this country are having, over Romney's 37 percent. The question demands a certain element of relatability, rather than a cold question about handling national issues:
Romney and his wife Ann have been trying to make the Republican candidate look more human, but so far he's come across more like a politician trying to act like a regular American rather than a candidate who really gets people.
The strategy appears to backfire much of the time. For example: Ann Romney has been touted as a secret weapon in Romney's campaign and has been increasingly reaching out to voters, especially since a poll revealed that Obama was getting a significant boost from women. But when she told a Baltimore radio station that we better unzip her stiff husband and let the real Mitt Romney out, the statement drew chuckles and mocking.
When Romney tried to label Obama as an elitist professor, the Obama campaign bounced right back with reports that the former Massachusetts governor's new California home will have elevators for his cars.
Romney trying to say someone's out of touch is a little difficult when he's shopping for car elevators, campaign manager Jim Messina said Monday, according to Politico.
Over the weekend, the Romney campaign released an Easter-themed campaign video full of family photos and anecdotes from Ann, while photos of Romney and his son on the beach circled the internet.
I hate to say it, but more often I had more than five sons, I had six sons. And he would be as mischievous and naughty. He would come home and -- BOOM -- everything would just explode again, Ann says of the GOP hopeful in the video, titled Family.
Obama's remarkable story should certainly not be understated. Singing talents and sense of humor aside, the man made history by becoming the first African-American president and becoming of symbol of hope for many. Despite his success, Obama has positioned himself as a champion of the working class rather than a selfish, unsympathizing billionaire.
Can Romney, that guy who is building car elevators at his home and doesn't drink beer, turn his success as a businessman into an inspiring story that Americans can aspire or relate to? The Romney campaign hopes so, but too many still think he's not in tune with the needs and wants of the middle class.
In case you're interested in how the poll's numbers broke down by policy, here are the results: