Analysis: Romney’s ‘47 percent' talk explains his struggles with swing voters

Mitt Romney campaigned in the Ohio rain Friday. Mitt Romney campaigned in the Ohio rain Friday. Charles Dharapak/AP

On pure philosophy alone, Mitt Romney’s Mother Jones moment offers two revealing glimpses into why he’s trailing President Obama even in a listless economy. Both revolve around how swing voters view economic policy.

In a now-infamous video posted Monday at MotherJones.com, Romney tells the audience at a private fundraiser that “47 percent” of voters, for reasons of government dependency, are destined to vote for Obama this fall.

“All right,” the Republican nominee says, “there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it… my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Romney also explains that those 47 percent don’t pay any federal income taxes, “So our message of low taxes doesn’t work.”

The danger of growing dependence on government - and the economic healing power of low taxes – are both themes that play very well with Republicans, presumably including the donors at the event on the tape. More than three in five Republicans disagree with the notion that “the government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep,” the Pew Research Center Values Study found earlier this year. An April CBS News/New York Times poll found seven in 10 Republicans said lowering taxes was the best way to improve economic growth.

The problem for Romney is, independent voters – the middle “5 to 10 percent” of the electorate he talks about winning over in the fundraiser video – don’t share those views.

The Pew poll found about three in five independents endorse the idea of government guaranteeing citizens food and a bed. Roughly the same number agree that government “should take care of people who can’t take care of themselves.”

Perhaps even more critically, the CBS News/New York Times poll found fewer than two in five independents believe lower taxes are the route to faster growth, compared to more than half who favor increased government spending and higher taxes.

If Romney wanted to argue that the poor have grown a little too fond of government help, or that America can’t afford to keep borrowing to fund a safety net, the Pew polls suggest large swaths of independent voters would be receptive. But that wasn’t the argument he made at the fundraiser. He was contending that his low-tax message works with independents, but not the government-dependent, which appears not to be true.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.