Can likeability win the election for Obama?

Opinion

President Barack Obama holds a baby while greeting guests during an Independence Day celebration on the South Lawn of the White House on July 4, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Pete Souza/White House Photo via Getty Images)

President Barack Obama holds a baby while greeting guests during an Independence Day celebration on the South Lawn of the White House on July 4, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Pete Souza/White House Photo via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, with viewership way down from 2008, this year’s Republican convention in Tampa did not connect with voters. For Romney— some of whose major gaffes included insulting his British hosts at the London Olympics, and telling a Pennsylvania baker that his cookies tasted like they ”came from the local 7 Eleven”—there was a lot on the line. Conveniently transforming himself from a moderate former governor of liberal Massachusetts to an arch conservative far to the right of Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater, Romney has exuded the trustworthiness of a used car salesman. Relentless attacks from the Obama camp on his days running Bain Capital only made things worse.

And the GOP’s Tampa convention did not help Romney in his quest to sell a product that an apparently insufficient number of Americans want to buy.

Any attempts to appear upbeat, inclusive and friendly clashed with a Republican platform hostile to women’s rights, gay marriage and immigrants, and a crowd of convention delegates that was over 90 percent white. Two delegates were removed for throwing peanuts at a black camerawoman and calling her an animal. Further, Clint Eastwood’s viral performance in Tampa helped to solidify the notion that the GOP is a party of elderly white folks arguing to an empty chair.

Moreover, does anyone really believe, as Ann Romney insisted, that she and her husband, the wealthy son of a wealthy governor, fell on hard times and ate tuna fish and pasta on an ironing board in the basement?

Meanwhile, the Tampa convention has helped to paint a negative image of Romney running mate Paul Ryan. Once hailed as a no-nonsense, straight-shooting budget wonk, Ryan now comes off a truth-challenged candidate who cannot come clean about his marathon finishing time. In addition, his working class image is betrayed by his wealthy family background, and the way in which he, like a bully, would seek to take away Medicare, giving the elderly coupons for private health care they cannot afford in the first place.

Most of all, despite attempts to convince us otherwise, Mitt Romney appeared cold, stiff and out of touch at his own convention, what MSNBC host Chris Matthews compared to Prince Charles visiting New Zealand, only without the kilt.

And with 56 days left until Election Day, President Obama has an 80.7 percent chance of winning reelection, according to Nate Silver.  If he wins, he may very well attribute it to a genuinely positive, forward-looking attitude— an inevitable retooling of the symbolic “hope” and “change” message that comes after four years of growing gray hairs in the White House.

Republicans are off message and grasping for straws, united only in their hatred of the other guy and anger towards those who don’t look like them. Voters want more than that it seems. Romney could learn a lesson from Obama right now, but will likely continue to wage race card politics in a nod to his base, through thinly-veiled references to welfare and birth certificates. It may already be too late for him.

Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove