Since video footage of Romney speaking rather candidly at a private fundraiser leaked via Motherjones (though it had been hiding on Youtube for a month prior), it’s all pundits are talking about.
Connor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic called it Romney’s “Clinging to Guns or Religion Moment.” A whole handful of commentators, only a few days after the video came out and the media firestorm erupted, see his latest gaffe as the end of Romney’s campaign.
But will this video actually have any impact on the polls in September, and did it reveal anything we didn’t already know about Romney’s character and his policies? Not likely, and no. This came from a man who months ago said publicly that he is “not concerned about the very poor.”
First of all, it should be recognized that while Romney’s description of 47% of the country as lazy freeloaders who subsist off government programs and don’t pay taxes is despicable and plainly false, he’s right to acknowledge that a large part of the voting block simply isn’t worth trying to persuade.
Most votes are already locked in. It shouldn’t come as a shock that swing voters decide elections.
What may be shocking is just how few votes are actually up for grabs. Though up to a third of Americans identify as “independents” when polled, research suggests only 3 – 5% of voters are actually up in the air this election.
That’s right. The election will probably be decided by a couple of thousand white suburban males (the typical demographics for a swing voter) in Ohio.
So how many of this tiny block of swing voters heard Romney’s remarks? How many will actually identify with the 47% Romney is dismissing? Or how many will be offended by rhetoric that lately has been all to common to Republicans, a rhetoric of America on the brink, government as bloated, and Obama supporters as lazy dependants?
Probably not that many. And more generally, “gaffes” like this don’t seem to affect polls that much at all.
With all of that said, I don’t think Romney will win, but I also don’t think a supposedly explosive new video will have anything to do with it.
By: Mike Guisinger
(Photo by Talk Radio News Service under a Creative Commons License)