If you’ve been living under a rock this past week, you may not have heard the news that Romney has completely derailed his campaign with what is one of the biggest gaffes in recent politics. In remarks he made last May at a private fundraiser, Romney said 47 percent of the country will vote for Obama no matter what because they are “dependent on the government.” “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 said.
Even before the biggest mistake of Romney’s political life, his campaign was already beginning to flounder. In the latest polls conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC, Obama’s approval rating hit 50 percent and he enjoys a 5-point lead over Romney. Out of the nine battleground states (VA, FL, IA, OH, WI, NC, CO, NV, NH) Romney currently only has a lead in North Carolina, according to Real Clear Politics (this uses an average of the latest polls conducted). If the election were held today, I believe that Obama would win in a landslide roughly equivalent to his 2008 victory.
Therefore, if you are behind in the polls and the election is creeping ever closer, it is not the time to alienate voters. It is especially important not to alienate the voters from the states where you hope to win. The Tax Foundation released a map showing which states had the highest and lowest percentages of people who did not file tax returns (aka Romney’s moochers). The “moocher states” with the highest percentage of people who do not pay federal income taxes, such as Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, are generally solidly Republican states. The “provider states” with the lowest percentage of people who do not pay federal income taxes, such as Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maryland, are generally solidly Democratic states.
In our Electoral College system, candidates need to focus on winning individual states, not necessarily individual sectors of the voting populace. In fact, a solid 39 percent of people in Florida, which is a must-win state for Romney, did not file income taxes. To alienate nearly half the populace in a battleground state as important as Florida is political suicide during a presidential election.
Nevertheless, how offensive was what Romney said really? Not only was it wrong, but it made it clear that he truly is out of touch with the average American. Simply because the federal income tax is the largest tax that he has to pay, he assumes that it is the only tax out there. He forgets that we “moochers” pay a significant portion of our income into payroll taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes and property taxes. Even if you only rent (or pay room and board at a college), the amount you pay accounts for the property taxes that your property owner or your school pays. When all these taxes are added up, the average American often times pays 30 to 40 percent of their income in various taxes. Yet Romney balks at the idea of millionaires and billionaires paying similar amounts.
Let me change Romney’s speech a bit to reflect what he really should have said if he wanted to be accurate:
There are one percent of the people who will vote for me no matter what. All right, there are one percent who are with me, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims of high taxes, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to paying less taxes, make obscene amounts of money by rigging the system, and never have to face consequences, to you name it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for me no matter what.