There’s not much I can say that everybody doesn’t already know about Mitt Romney’s attack on the 47% of Americans who, he says, just won’t “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” But I do want to make a couple of small points.
The problem Romney has with the Democratic base — the reason they won’t vote for him no matter what he does — has very little with any supposed dependency they have on government handouts. The 47% who pay no federal income taxes are spread out across the ideological spectrum. They include white Alabama retirees, Idahoans on Social Security disability, active duty military. Hell, a third of American voters with household incomes under $30,000 went for McCain.
So that’s the first thing, that he was slagging a big chunk of his own base. But that’s been pointed out before. What’s more important is to note that it’s not just 47% of Americans who believe, as Romney put it, that “the government has a responsibility to care for” poor people, and to provide them with “food [and] housing.”
Because it turns out that this very question gets polled by the Pew Research Center on a regular basis, most recently in June of this year. And they found that not 47% but 59% of Americans agreed that “the government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep.”
Fifty-nine percent. And that includes 36% of Republicans and 49% of those Pew identified as “high income.”
Now, no candidate for president would ever say they believed that all Americans should be guaranteed decent food and reliable shelter. Americans don’t have such a guarantee now, and they’re not going to get it from the Democrats or the Republicans in anything like the near future. But if every American who believes in such a guarantee voted against Mitt Romney, he’d lose in the biggest landslide in forty years.