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Other editors: The campaign likability factor



The (McComb) Enterprise-Journal



Let's set aside for a moment any concerns about the character, history and political philosophy of the five remaining presidential candidates: Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders along with Republicans Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich. 


You know what the real problem with this group is? They're just not very likable. 


Granted, likability should not be the most important reason to vote for a candidate. A likable person in any office can still make horrible decisions. 


Even so, likability is often an undeniable factor, especially in presidential elections. Recent history provides two outstanding examples: Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. 


Whatever voters may have thought about their politics, both of these presidents came across as friendly. It had to help that both were optimists about their country -- something the 2016 group largely lacks. 


Let's put 2016's Fab Five to the likability test: 


· Clinton, fairly or not, is being compared to her husband. That is inevitable, and she falls short. Even if she didn't have a questionable record as secretary of state -- the private e-mail server and the delayed response to the Benghazi attack -- Clinton comes across as someone who will say whatever it takes to get elected. Maybe her husband did that too, but he simply was a lot better at it than she is. 


· Sanders: Perhaps the most likable of the bunch, in the way you enjoy listening to a cranky uncle -- but only once a year at Thanksgiving dinner. The Vermont senator's complaints about the unfairness of the world sound amazingly like Frank Barone, the grumpy father on "Everybody Loves Raymond." 


· Trump:­ It's amazing to see how much the GOP front-runner gripes. Ask yourself this question: Would you do business with this guy? He's the customer who is never satisfied, who always sends a meal back at the restaurant and demands a refund. But if he's the seller and you, the buyer, have a complaint, it's not his fault and you don't know what you're talking about. We all know these people, and no one likes them. 


· Cruz: What more can you say about a man who is intensely disliked by almost everybody in his workplace? Cruz is only in his first term as a U.S. senator but already has been able to alienate most of his Republican colleagues. Which leads to an obvious question:?If he was to get elected, how much would a Republican Congress be willing to work with him? 


· Kasich: Obviously the most likable Republican, although in public he tends to rely on dull talking points rather than winging it, as Reagan and Clinton were so good at doing. Of course, with 2016 being the most bizarre election year in memory, the Ohio governor is a distant third among Republicans. His only hope is as a compromise pick in a deadlocked convention. 


The election looks rather dismal with this group. Potential candidates who score higher on the likability scale are Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Lindsey Graham. But not this year. 




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