Obama is running a brutal anti-Romney ad (video above) which consists entirely of Romney’s words on the 47 percent and representative pictures of people who might not pay income taxes. The ad works because it reinforces the negative views of Romney previously spread by the Obama campaign, showing that the attacks are true based upon Romney’s own words. Greg Sargent commented:
Obama and Democrats had spent the better part of a year painting Romney as a corporate predator who is completely disconnected from the economic experiences of ordinary Americans and thinks cutting taxes for the rich and letting unfettered free market capitalism run rampant will magically solve all our problems. The idea behind that attack line wasn’t just to paint Romney as a heartless plutocrat; it was designed to make it easier for voters to believe that his policies really would further enrich the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
Judging by recent polling — a stunning 38 percent of Ohio voters think Romney cares about the needs and problems of people like them — that version of Romney may be taking hold among voters. Now Dems have him on video essentially acting out the worst caricature of himself by speaking with undisguised disdain about nearly half the country — the less privileged half. As Jonathan Chait put it recently, Romney played the part of the “sneering plutocrat” who “put himself forward as the hopeful president of the top half of America against the bottom.” This, exactly at the moment when Romney is fighting perceptions that his policies are skewed in favor of the rich, and undecided voters are making their final choice about which candidate can truly be trusted to guard their interests.
Further comments from Jonathan Chait:
The damage of the remarks is twofold. Obviously, it deeply reinforces the worst stereotypes voters have of Romney. Indeed, the fact that he is currently running ads trying to make the case that he does care about all of America testifies to the grim position in which Romney finds himself. If you’re trying to clear the threshold of “does this candidate hate me” six weeks before the election, you’re probably not on the verge of closing the sale.
Worse still, the comments destroy Romney’s fundamental credibility. Here America sees what he says behind closed doors. Nothing he can say in public can possibly overcome the damage of these comments, because voters will quite correctly assume that he is telling them what they want to hear. George W. Bush’s campaign figured out how to do this to both Al Gore and John Kerry — by painting them as liars, Bush destroyed them as a message delivery platform. Romney has, essentially, done it to himself.
The size of the political damage Romney has incurred is beside the point. He was trailing narrowly, but in a polarized electorate with a tiny number of undecided voters. Not only has he turned some of those undecided voters against him, but he’s blown up his bridge to reach them.
Romney has lost the support of many undecided voters with this comment. He also risks losing the support of many Republican voters. His assumption that the roughly 47 percent who supported Obama when he said this are the same people as the approximately 47 percent who don’t pay federal income taxes is false (as is most of what he says about taxation and the economy). Those who don’t pay income taxes are split between both parties and include many in the Republican base. Perhaps Romney’s lack of understanding of the Republican base, as well as lack of understanding of those who support his opponent, explains why he is struggling in his campaign.
Polls have often demonstrated that a clear majority supports Democratic positions when no party labels are attached. Many people vote Republican because the right wing noise machine has so thoroughly distorted what both Democrats and Republicans actually believe in. Hearing a candid comment as to true Republican beliefs has given a strong boost to the Democrats.