What’s Not To Like?

The media tells us that the voters “like” Barack Obama, but don’t “like” Mitt Romney. Or in mediaspeak, Barry’s likeability numbers are high and Mitt’s are low. The media also tells us that same sex marriage is becoming more popular every day and that its eventual acceptance by all but a handful of old “homophobes” is a certainty.

That is what J.K. Galbraith once termed the “conventional wisdom.” But I say be wary of any public opinion poll in which the “wrong” answer to the question being asked will result in your being labelled a bigot.

This phenomenon was once called the “Bradley Effect.” From Wikipedia:

The Bradley effect, less commonly called the Wilder effect,… is a theory proposed to explain observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some United States government elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other…The theory proposes that some voters will tell pollsters they are undecided or likely to vote for a black candidate, while on election day they vote for the white candidate. It was named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor’s race despite being ahead in voter polls going into the elections…

The Bradley effect theorizes that the inaccurate polls were skewed by the pheno menon of social desirability bias….Specifically, some white voters give inaccurate polling responses for fear that, by stating their true preference, they will open themselves to criticism of racial motivation. Members of the public may feel under pressure to provide an answer that is deemed to be more publicly acceptable, or ‘politically correct’. The reluctance to give accurate polling answers has sometimes extended to post-election exit polls as well. The race of the pollster conducting the interview may factor in to voters’ answers…

Yet, I am unaware of any skepticism in the media or any mention of the Bradley effect concerning either Obama’s “likeability” or whether or not the public favors same sex marriage.

First, the Obama favorability numbers. I cannot think of even one career politician who is genuinely likeable. Disingenuousness comes with the politician’s territory, and Obama is off the charts when it comes to faking sincerity and playing fast and loose with the truth. In addition, he exudes the attitude of a mean spirited, self-satisfied S.O.B. who considers anyone who disagrees with him to be either immoral or stupid. Hence, it is really hard for me to believe that the more than 50 percent of voters who don’t “like” his policies nonetheless truly “like” him personally.

I mean, it is really easy to tell a pollster that you don’t like a rich white guy like Mitt Romney, but a lot harder to say you find a reasonably articulate, attractive, “black” man who wears his pants above his rear end to be unlikeable. As they say: What’s not to like?

The Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins homed in on Obama in a recent column:

…Mr. Obama’s great political talent has been his knack for granting his admirers permission to think highly of themselves for thinking highly of him. The self-approval of his supporters is the engine of his political rise, albeit married to the kind of hardball that drove his two most formidable rivals out of the 2004 Senate race in divorce-related scandals

In other words, people like Obama because he makes them feel good about themselves, an appeal a mere white guy like Mitt Romney could never possess. So if you vote for Obama, you are a morally superior person; if you vote for the rich white guy, well…

The same self-congratulation attends the gay marriage debate. The media does not seem much interested in the fact that gay marriage has yet to survive a free and open popular referendum on the issue, even in the bluest of blue states, California. Yet, we are told that it is now a 50-50 proposition with all the indicators pointing to a gay movement triumph – sooner rather than later. That triumph may happen, but in my opinion, it won’t be because the majority of people approve of it, but rather because the Supreme Court (really Justice Anthony Kennedy) approves of it.

Discount the opinion polls on gay marriage and Obama’s personal popularity; they are tainted by fear of political incorrectness. On those issues, the only opinion that truly matters is the one expressed in the privacy of the polling booth.

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