What “Dancing with the Stars” can tell us about the presidential race

October 1, 2012

With just 36 days left before the 2012 election, virtually every poll question you can think of has been asked at least five times -- except this one: "Who would you rather see as a contestant on 'Dancing with the Stars'?"

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll asked just that question in our latest national survey. Here's what we found: 


Washington Post-ABC News poll, Sept. 26-29, 2012

Even Republicans prefer Obama on stage, by 44 to 33 percent margin. It could be a compliment, or perhaps a wish for what they would like Obama to do in January instead of beginning a second term in office. After all, just 7 percent of Republicans say they’d support his re-election if they voted today.

Beyond a perceived entertaining prowess, Obama seems to be earning his sea legs too. Earlier in the month, Obama and Romney were nearly even on being seen as the person voters would rather have as a captain of a ship in a storm. Now Obama has a 52 to 40 percent advantage.

Obama tops Romney on two other lighthearted scores, as the candidate voters would rather join on an overnight camping trip (48 to 34 percent) and as the person whose music playlist they would rather listen to (46 to 30 percent). (Perhaps voters took the advice of Romney running mate Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who likened Romney’s playlist to elevator music at the GOP convention.)

When asked who you would rather have “babysit your children,” the two candidates drew even with a significant 13 percent volunteering that they would want neither one to do that job.

What do all these seemingly odd match-ups say about the ultimate decision about how people come to their choice for president? As noted in a previous Fix post, the captain of the ship question may speak to broader judgments of competence. But on most of these items Democrats reliably pick Obama and Republicans pick Romney. 

Independents lean toward Obama, the candidate they also see as more likable and friendly, on all these measures except for childcare where they split their vote. Nearly one in five independents pick neither for this duty or are unsure. 

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Sean Sullivan · October 1, 2012