Gallup: Obama leads Romney on likability by ... 29 points

There are lots of polls I don’t worry about but I do worry about this one. Likability won’t decide the election but when you like someone you’re apt to give them the benefit of a doubt they don’t always deserve. I’ve always thought, for instance, that that’s a contributing factor in why huge swaths of the public still blame Bush for the economy even now. Someone who’s personally sympathetic to O will find it easier to identify with his predicament circa 2009 than someone who doesn’t like him. If unemployment drops to, say, 7.8 percent by November, is that good enough for an incumbent win? For an unlikable incumbent, maybe not. For Obama, looking at this kind of spread, who knows?

The independent numbers are what they are. The good news, obviously, is that Romney leads by three points overall on the important metric of who can manage the government most effectively — but I’m not sure how good it is. The Eeyore on my shoulder is whispering that that number shouldn’t be that close given O’s record on debt and the heavy, heavy connotations of leviathan government carried by the Obama brand. But then, most low-information voters don’t really know Romney yet, which means they haven’t been exposed much yet to his core campaign message of managerial competence. If he’s already ahead on this metric, it’s probably more a reflection of “yeah, Obama’s a screw-up” sentiment among the public than any strong appreciation for Romney. And that is good news since it means there’s room for Mitt’s numbers to grow as people become more familiar with his strengths.

As for polls that I don’t worry about, here’s a brand new one from Reuters that puts Obama up seven on Romney nationally — thanks chiefly to a sample with a 12-point Democratic tilt (excluding leaners). Elections guru Jay Cost of the Weekly Standard had a laugh over it on Twitter earlier and noted that even in a poll this blue, O’s job approval stands at just 50 percent. The ice holding him up is awfully thin, and bound to get thinner once conservative Super PACs turn up the heat. Which, of course, explains Obama passing the buck today by whining about Congress as well as this new DNC ad pushing their meme that Romney’s the most conservative candidate in American history or whatever. They’ve got to change the subject, however they can.

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