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Obama vs. Romney: spirit vs. substance

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Rich Sugg/The Kansas City Star/AP/File

(Read caption) Barack Obama is greeted by well-wishers Monday evening, May 21, 2012 at the airport in Joplin, Mo. According to a recent poll, the President inspires more than Mitt Romney, but respondents are so sure about his ability to get things done when it comes to the economy.

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Very interesting poll results reported in the Washington Post. Note that President Obama continues to reign in the overall inspirational category:  if the question is how excited one gets about supporting the candidate and knowing that the candidate will support and understand you (and your economic problems and concerns), Obama wins hands down.  But if the question is how well the candidate has actually done or is expected to do on objective, measurable economic goals, Obama and Romney look virtually the same.  If the President actually wins reelection, this suggests that he could and probably should go bolder in his second term to put the money where the confidence in him is–to come up with and follow through on the policies that are consistent with all of his inspirational talk.  If Romney wins, or maybe rather, in order for him to win, the poll suggests he has a lot of PR and perhaps substantive policy work to do to convince Americans that his economic policies will be good not just for this abstract concept of “the economy” or other people’s “jobs,” but good for Americans very broadly as well.