On the eve of the second presidential debate, new polls are bringing additional good news for Republican challenger Mitt Romney. A new Politico/George Washington University poll found the former governor of Massachusetts' likeability improved following his successful first debate performance against President Barack Obama.
A slim majority, 51%, now views Romney favorably, while 44% views him unfavorably. The finding is reassuring for the Romney campaign as the former CEO had been viewed mostly unfavorably up until this point. In September, 49% of voters saw him negatively. In October, leading to the first debate, there was a split with 47% seeing Romney favorably and other 47% unfavorably.
The trend is troubling for Obama, as his campaign has relied on the president's likeability and Romney's unlikeability for months when trying to mitigate the former governor's competitive numbers on jobs and the economy. However, at roughly three weeks to the election, the president continues to lead in likeability, with 56% of voters viewing Obama favorably.
This could change one way or another after tomorrow's Hofstra University town hall debate. The Obama campaign has vowed the president will be more aggressive towards Romney at their rematch, and have suggested Joe Biden's feisty performance against Paul Ryan during the vice presidential debate could be a preview of what Obama will try to accomplish.
However, because of the debate's more intimate setting, with a live audience asking the candidates questions, Obama's more aggressive stance could backfire if he comes across as too desperate. Though the president needs to draw a sharp contrast between his policies and those of Romney, he should refrain from personally attacking the former governor of Massachusetts' character. This would make Obama look and feel unpresidential and could boost Romney's numbers (especially if the former CEO comes across as relatable and connects with voters during the town hall debate).