Its Super Tuesday and time to ask, with whom would you want to have a beer? President Obama, Speaker Gingrich, Governor Romney, Senator Santorum, or Congressman Paul?
In the February 27th, 2012 Politico Battleground poll, President Obama's job approval stood at 53% and 74% of voters approved of the President personally. In other words 74% liked him, even though about a third of those who liked him did not approve of his job performance.
Personal popularity is everything when running for the president of a fraternity or a high school class, but it should not be discounted as a factor in Presidential politics.
At the Presidential level, the question becomes, with which candidate would you prefer to have a beer? That is a question that President Obama welcomes, whether the Republican nominee is Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, or Paul.
How important is the Presidential beer drinking contest to deciding the winner? While the economy and the question, "are you better off than 4 years ago?", remain the most important factor in deciding elections, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush all won the beer drinking contest against George H. Bush, Dole, Kerry, Gore and the Presidency. One might have to go back to Richard Nixon to find a candidate who became President without winning being liked.
Being liked matters in contests for the Presidency, probably even more than specific policy positions. Personal popularity involves personality, appearance, voice, all ingredients of leadership, whether one likes it or not.
Obama's 74% personal favoribility rating is teflon that deflects political attacks, and, while it won't win the President a second term by itself, his re-election campaign stands on the strong foundation that large numbers of Americans like Barack Obama.