Democrats consider New York Sen. Hillary Clinton the most electable candidate in the presidential field, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll out Monday afternoon.I don't know where pollsters or campaign strategists get the idea that likeability is relevant in choosing a president.
Democratic voters polled in the new survey also consider the senator from New York to be the strongest leader and the most experienced, but Sen. Barack Obama has a light edge on likeability.
Oh, wait, yes I do. Thanks to television and the mass media, we've become convinced that a likeable and attractive candidate with a killer smile and an affable demeanor will somehow be a good president. It started with "I Like Ike" in 1952, about the same time that TV was becoming a part of the infrastructure of a campaign, and hasn't stopped since. Kennedy beat Nixon because he was the first rock-star candidate, and since then we've tended to base our choice not on the man who could solve our problems and lead us to a better future but with whom we'd like to have a beer with. There have been exceptions: Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter pretty much cancel each other out. George W. Bush won that round in 2000, but he also proved to be the guy who would get shitfaced drunk, trash the place, barf on your shoes, and stick you with the bar tab. Now we're up to the American Idol level of elections, and even the candidates are aware of the fact; John Edwards gets grief for his haircuts and Mitt Romney actually buys make-up, but it's more out of a measure of jealousy that the other candidates snipe at them because they're buying into the illusion that image is more important than substance.
One would hope that after the last seven years we would have matured beyond that phase of adolescent fascination with shallowness, but I doubt it. More's the pity.
Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.