No, Romney didn’t just lose the election

posted at 8:41 am on September 18, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

I got home late last night and missed most of the hysteria over Mitt Romney’s remarks at a fundraiser in May, but I’m glad to see I didn’t miss all of it.  Here’s Josh Barro at Bloomberg, telling us we can take a 50-day nap, because the election is all over now that Romney has described 47% of voters as victims:

You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

On the tape, Romney explains that his electoral strategy involves writing off nearly half the country as unmoveable Obama voters. As Romney explains, 47 percent of Americans “believe that they are victims.” He laments: “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

So what’s the upshot? “My job is not to worry about those people,” he says. He also notes, describing President Obama’s base, “These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.”

This is an utter disaster for Romney.

I’m not going to argue that it’s good for Romney.  This is what comes from candidates attempting to become political analysts on the campaign trail.  Newt Gingrich made this same mistake during the primaries, and it caused him headaches as well.  Candidates need to stick to their message, and shrug off questions about strategy; that’s for staffers to leak to the media.  When candidates forget that, they end up producing sound bites that sound like this, or like Howard Dean’s reality-defying 2004 “Yeargh!” moment in Iowa.

But if quips won elections, I have dozens more damaging in the Obamateurism series than this. This one is hardly fatal, at least in part because Romney is actually on solid ground in terms of the math, as the Daily Beast pointed out last night:

Jim Messina, Obama campaign manager, called the statement “shocking” and “disdainful.” Gail Gitcho, Romney communication director, said that it showed that the former governor really is “concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government.” But ham-handed, principled, offensive, or otherwise, Romney’s words were clearly one thing: true. Here are the facts.

According to the Tax Policy Center, a partnership of the liberal Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, 46.4 percent of American filers pay “zero or negative” income tax. …

Paying no income tax is one thing. Being “dependent on government” is another. But under a broad definition of government dependence—that is, receiving federal entitlements—more than 47 percent of us are in Romney’s category. According to the Census Bureau, 49 percent of Americans live in a household that receives a government entitlement for “health care” through Medicaid or Medicare, “food” through stamps, disability, Social Security, or a “housing” assistance program. Most of these benefits are not paid for by their recipients, but by federal deficits. The gap between promises and anticipated funds for Social Security is $8.6 trillion for the next 75 years, according to the government’s own estimates (PDF). For Medicare, it’s $27 trillion.

Of course, sometimes perception outruns facts, and the perception of Romney as out of touch with the working class has already been advanced by Team Obama.  The problem with the whole “the election is over” analysis is that it defies history — and recent history at that.  Almost exactly four years earlier, in another fundraiser secretly taped by an attendee, a major-party nominee made the same mistake as Romney and offered some political analysis of why large numbers of voters were probably unreachable in an election.  The nominee — some also-ran named Barack Obama — told his urbane San Francisco crowd of supporters that people in the hinterlands were xenophobic and clung bitterly to their religion and guns in hard times, and would be difficult to win over.  In fact, Obama made oblique references to that argument prior to that tape, occasionally talking about the handicap of having a “funny name” would be with some voters.

That is almost exactly the same kind of argument Romney made, only in the context of government assistance.  How’d that work out for Obama?  Not too bad, as I recall.

This instant-toast analysis is the product of a media with too much pressure to be profound and not enough perspective to resist it.  We like to think that one utterance can decide elections, but it’s really not the case.  For instance, pundits will talk about how Jimmy Carter’s decision to cite his teenage daughter as an expert in a response to a debate question on the biggest issue facing the world lost him the election, but it was the Iran hostage crisis and massive stagflation that made Carter a one-term President.  His predecessor was supposedly set to win until he asserted in a debate that Poland wasn’t under Soviet domination, but Gerald Ford lost that election when he pardoned Richard Nixon two years earlier; after Watergate and the pardon, Republicans weren’t going to keep the White House.  Similarly, we like to think that John McCain lost the election in 2008 when he announced that he would suspend his campaign to return to Washington in the wake of the economic collapse, but after eight years of George Bush, war fatigue, and the economic collapse itself, the likelihood of any Republican winning that election looks close to nil in retrospect.  And perhaps the election of the least-experienced executive in modern American presidential history that year bears that analysis out, too.

In the end, the American people will decide this election not on quips but on records and policy, as they always have.


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Can.I.be.in.the.middle on September 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM

liberal

jaime on September 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM

I really did not need that image, darlin’.

I’m just sayin’.

kingsjester on September 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM

It’s for the ladies. But you’re free to imagine it, too.

RepubChica on September 18, 2012 at 12:55 PM

BISHOP now you merely expose your lack of maturity … for you it is all about the food fighting not political discourse aimed at the sharing of conflicting political notions …

U2denver on September 18, 2012 at 12:44 PM

You mean the political discourse you’ve been engaging in here? How many times do you plan on insulting and accusing me before finally moving on to an in-depth analysis of politics?

Bishop on September 18, 2012 at 12:56 PM

I am not exactly Romney’s biggest fan. In fact, I have been highly critical of his campaign for some time now.

That being said, this “tape” will have no effect whatsoever on the campaign or election outcome. If anything, it will likely help Romney with securing GOP base support and enthusiasm.

The near panicky need for liberals on this board and elsewhere to affirm their belief in this tape’s supposedly damaging effect is telling.

Norwegian on September 18, 2012 at 12:57 PM

RepubChica on September 18, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Just for a second. It departed quickly. Thank you, Jesus. LOL.

kingsjester on September 18, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Bishop on September 18, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Lol! ; )

Bmore on September 18, 2012 at 12:58 PM

I know comparisons have been made to other candidates but I’m getting a real Gerald Ford feeling here. A man who was, according to all available evidence, damn smart. But, he didn’t seem like it.

Mitt might not be a block-head. But he sure seems like it.

IndieDogg on September 18, 2012 at 12:33 PM

I think you missed the context of what he was saying. He simply said it would be nearly impossible to convince those 47% to vote for him. He was telling the truth which I find refreshing. I’d rather have a president that doesn’t spin things to manipulate people so they can keep their jobs. President Pantload is famous for that — as he told Harry Reid, he has a gift. The American people will decide in November if they will give him more time to use that gift in the public or private sector. Either way BHO will always be part of the 1% he hates so much.

wordsmithy2009 on September 18, 2012 at 1:01 PM

BIshop ,I merely responded to your put downs of othere … actually I have to go …I have to read those liberal columns of David Brooks And Bill Kristol as they rip on Romney … but at least they use some kind of intellectual reasoning even when I usually disagree with them unlike you and your clownish cohorts

U2denver on September 18, 2012 at 1:04 PM

“We’re going to reshape selfish, mean-spirited America…I’m not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me. And I’m not interested in isolating myself. I feel good when I’m engaged in what I think are the core issues of the society, and those core issues to me are what’s happening to poor folks in this society.”

- Barack Obama

Who lives in the suburbs? The Middle Class.

Middle Class America, Barack Obama thinks that you are selfish.

Middle Class America, Barack Obama thinks that you are mean-spirited.

Middle Class America, Barack Obama isn’t interested in you.

Middle Class America, Barack Obama is bored by you.

Middle Class America, Barack Obama does not “have your back.”

Middle Class America, why would you have Barack Obama’s back?

Resist We Much on September 18, 2012 at 1:09 PM

U2denver on September 18, 2012 at 1:04 PM

“clownish cohorts”? Oh, my. Well, Fontleroy…if you don’t like it here, leave. And, don’t let the screen door hit you.

kingsjester on September 18, 2012 at 1:09 PM

BIshop ,I merely responded to your put downs of othere … actually I have to go …I have to read those liberal columns of David Brooks And Bill Kristol as they rip on Romney … but at least they use some kind of intellectual reasoning even when I usually disagree with them unlike you and your clownish cohorts

U2denver on September 18, 2012 at 1:04 PM

There ya go! Right on brother, raising the level of dialogue to that of TPM with your deep insights such as “clownish cohorts”; I’m smarter just for reading your comment.

But yes, I’m sure you need to go now, most of the lefties here manage to skip out after taking a beating, why should you be any different.

Bishop on September 18, 2012 at 1:10 PM

happily can afford my current life.

urbane effetist on September 18, 2012 at 12:50 PM

That’s because unlike the vast majority of Americans, you’re “employed” in a “profession” where you will never have to worry about losing your job, even when you turn out a shoddy product.

So are you Proud of the conditions in Washington’s Ward 8? FYI, national crime stats show that it’s more dangerous to live in DC than it is to live in NYC.

Del Dolemonte on September 18, 2012 at 1:11 PM

The near panicky need for liberals on this board and elsewhere to affirm their belief in this tape’s supposedly damaging effect is telling.

Norwegian on September 18, 2012 at 12:57 PM

A+

PS. Latest Gallup has O’bamna losing a point since last week.

Del Dolemonte on September 18, 2012 at 1:13 PM

I would also like to add that your grammar and punctuation are top notch, obviously indications of a high level of intelligence and academic achievement.

Bishop on September 18, 2012 at 1:13 PM

A little reverse psychology could work in this situation, who wants to be known as a “47%er”?

Tater Salad on September 18, 2012 at 1:13 PM

I like how liberals are arguing about the “47%” but conceding the fact that losers vote for democrats and winners vote for republicans. If that is the narrative that comes out of this then it’s a net positive.

ModerateMan on September 18, 2012 at 1:15 PM

But ham-handed, principled, offensive, or otherwise, Romney’s words were clearly one thing: true.

No, it’s not true that a person who doesn’t currently pay federal income taxes considers himself a “victim” or can’t be “convince[d ...] they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

My household didn’t pay federal income taxes last year–I’m not any more likely to refuse to take deductions and credits for which I qualify than someone like Romney is; that would be dumb!–but I did pay self-employment taxes. If Romney doesn’t want my vote, that’s fine. I was voting Johnson, anyway!

VerbumSap on September 18, 2012 at 1:24 PM

If Romney doesn’t want my vote, that’s fine. I was voting Johnson, anyway!

VerbumSap on September 18, 2012 at 1:24 PM

You just proved Romney right. He didn’t say he didn’t want your vote — he said he probably wan’t going to convince you to change your vote.

wordsmithy2009 on September 18, 2012 at 1:32 PM

No, it’s not true that a person who doesn’t currently pay federal income taxes considers himself a “victim” or can’t be “convince[d ...] they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

My household didn’t pay federal income taxes last year–I’m not any more likely to refuse to take deductions and credits for which I qualify than someone like Romney is; that would be dumb!–but I did pay self-employment taxes. If Romney doesn’t want my vote, that’s fine. I was voting Johnson, anyway!

VerbumSap on September 18, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Small minds are unable to read or listen for comprehension…
The two groups were similar in size but not one in the same.

Go back and listen uncritically and you will see what I mean. If you are unable to hear what I just said, it seems to be a medical issue.

astonerii on September 18, 2012 at 1:34 PM

I like it when Romney tells the truth. This is why he is a good business manager, he sees the problem and cuts to the chase very quickly. He’s a problem solver. To some people that may be cold and calculating, but that is just what we need to turn around the economy.

I don’t care if the 47% can’t stand the truth. They’re freeloaders; F’ em!

woodNfish on September 18, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Hey, I’m officially a cohort! There had better not be dues associated with that!

Bmore on September 18, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Mitt states a truth that 53% of us have been singing and now it’s a no no. Give me a break!

mixplix on September 18, 2012 at 1:45 PM

But what will Peggy Noonan write tomorrow?

Fuquay Steve on September 18, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Hope n Change is a miserable failure. Obama needs to punt on third down and has broken all of Carters records for career fumbles, interceptions and bad calls.

SparkPlug on September 18, 2012 at 2:07 PM

I don’t care if the 47% can’t stand the truth. They’re freeloaders; F’ em!

woodNfish on September 18, 2012 at 1:41 PM

10/4

Marco on September 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Bishop on September 18, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Futuantur, si iocum de se ipsis non tolerent.

de rigueur on September 18, 2012 at 2:33 PM

I don’t care if the 47% can’t stand the truth. They’re freeloaders; F’ em!

woodNfish on September 18, 2012 at 1:41 PM

10/4

Marco on September 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM

47% are victims Of obamaism, democrats, and liberalism. They need to pay taxes because it would be good for them. They need to realize tax cuts for the job creators are good and will make them more money. Why don’t they realize this? They have been brainwashed by the liberal media.

nazo311 on September 18, 2012 at 2:36 PM

They need to pay taxes because it would be good for them.

Yup, a claim of ownership, a personal piece of our Republic, a price to pay for the freedoms and opportunities available for those who care to seek and pursue them.

hawkeye54 on September 18, 2012 at 2:40 PM

So as one of the 47% the Left would have me believe I should vote for Obama because “he cares about you and Romney doesn’t”

So I just should ignore the last 4 years and the consequences of Obama’s policies? The 300% inflation in my energy bill? The 87% inflation in the cost of my groceries? the 42% increase in my personal debt, the 57% decrease in my personal income?

If the choice is between a guy who doesn’t care for me and a corrupt incompetence who claims he does, I’ll take Romney.

MNJohnnie on September 18, 2012 at 2:41 PM

I really hope Romney wins the popular vote with 48-50% of the vote COMPARED TO 47% FOR OBAMA. I would fall out of my chair laughing.

ModerateMan on September 18, 2012 at 2:51 PM

I’d rather have Romney about 2 points behind entering the last week before the election.

Americans love upsets.

senrex on September 18, 2012 at 2:53 PM

You sure Ed? The MSM and their paid commenters on their websites are telling me that it’s over? Who should I believe?

/sarc

JFS61 on September 18, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Sometimes even the Hollywood types tell the truth. Nothing is over until the fat lady gets her Big Gulp back in NYC.

JAY LENO: Well, according to the Labor Department, unemployment fell from 8.3 to 8.1 percent last month. But that was because only, that’s because, rather, 368,000 Americans gave up looking for work. And today, President Obama said that’s a step in the right direction, and he is encouraging more Americans to give up looking for work so the numbers will come down a little bit.

In reality, most of the drop in the unemployment rate since its 2009 peak is due to a decline in the labor force.

In fact, according to Zero Hedge, the real unemployment rate is currently 11.7 percent.

As such, if the media did a better job reporting the truth about the jobs numbers, one quite imagines Obama wouldn’t be doing nearly as well in the polls.

wordsmithy2009 on September 18, 2012 at 3:15 PM

That is encouraging. But Romney needs to lay out a better path for Julia, where she controls her life and her destiny, not give up her vote for lost.

besser tot als rot on September 18, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Oh please.

“Julia” is a lazy welfare whore who has no intention of doing either. Why should she, when she can do whatever she wants and hand her bills to the government?

What Mitt is doing is very simple. “Julia” is going to take the easy way out because that’s what she has been rewarded for doing. Meanwhile, she and her Obama want to PUNISH those who are working, who are producing, and are creating by calling them greedy and selfish, insisting “they didn’t build that”, and whining that if they don’t give “Julia” money to pay for her bad choices, they want her to die on the floor.

Obama cannot win this argument. His only promises are ones in which other people pay your bills, other people take your responsibilities, and other people accept the consequences of your decision.

Mitt is pointing out that YOU are “the other person”.

northdallasthirty on September 18, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Gallup’s most recent poll shows 54% of Americans think government does/tries to do too much, while only 39% think it should be doing more. But among Democrats, 69% believe the government should do more.

There’s your country and your election right there. Let Obama have his socialist base, Romney will clean up on the big majorities of Republicans and independents who want smaller and less intrusive government, and peel away a few of the Democrats whose party has abandoned them.

This is why every little incident or awkward statement from Romney is portrayed as the end of his campaign by the obamedia. They know their Little Stalin is going down, and are desperate to change the tide.

Adjoran on September 18, 2012 at 3:27 PM

At an October 19, 1998 conference at Loyola University, Barack Obama spoke against “propaganda” that said government doesn’t work and the need to “pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ge3aGJfDSg4

Resist We Much on September 18, 2012 at 3:32 PM

“We’re going to reshape selfish, mean-spirited America…I’m not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me. And I’m not interested in isolating myself. I feel good when I’m engaged in what I think are the core issues of the society, and those core issues to me are what’s happening to poor folks in this society.”

- Barack Obama

Resist We Much on September 18, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Is this an actual quote? I’ve never heard this before.

When & where did he say this?

If this is true, I have some people I want to share this with…

ccrosby on September 18, 2012 at 3:36 PM

CNBC Poll. 75% agree with Romney

Conservative4ev on September 18, 2012 at 3:54 PM

I would also like to add that your grammar and punctuation are top notch, obviously indications of a high level of intelligence and academic achievement.

Bishop on September 18, 2012 at 1:13 PM

oof. i resemble that remark….

t8stlikchkn on September 18, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Wow, the elites — on both sides of the aisle — hate Romney’s remarks…and the peeps love Romney’s remarks. Who’s disconnected?

Rational Thought on September 18, 2012 at 3:55 PM

I really hope Romney wins the popular vote with 48-50% of the vote COMPARED TO 47% FOR OBAMA. I would fall out of my chair laughing.

ModerateMan on September 18, 2012 at 2:51 PM

well, you may be disappointed. it’ll be about 54-46 R/O PV. and i have been saying that for 6 months.this means romney will get 1% of the moochers by accident of course, ala pat buchannons support in west palm beach in 00.

t8stlikchkn on September 18, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Wow, 200+ new posts in just a couple of hours? Axelrod’s 3rd Shift must have arrived early again.

Del Dolemonte on September 18, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Wow, 200+ new posts in just a couple of hours? Axelrod’s 3rd Shift must have arrived early again.

Del Dolemonte on September 18, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Keyboard bounce. Make that 20+

I give myself a D-

Del Dolemonte on September 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Just means us non-Obama lovers need to work a little harder. Romney’s got b*lls to at least open his mouth. To think someone wouldnt pocket a recorder would be pretty dumb plus he hasnt said anything thats not true. They like to turn the attention to the other guy after all the Libya lying.

johnnyU on September 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM

This instant-toast analysis is the product of a media with too much pressure to be profound and not enough perspective to resist it.

That and the fact that they are the propaganda wing of the Democratic party. Romney may have over generalized in his remarks, but there was a lot of truth to what he said and I think more people might realize that than the media imagines.

At any rate, I think I will continue to skip TV coverage today.

Terrye on September 18, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Wow, the elites — on both sides of the aisle — hate Romney’s remarks…and the peeps love Romney’s remarks. Who’s disconnected?

Rational Thought on September 18, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Let me guess…

Terrye on September 18, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Remember this? At least Romney doesn’t feel the need to intentionally hide his comments.

Obama Campaign Bans Cell Phones at New York Fundraiser
http://nation.foxnews.com/obama-campaign/2012/05/16/obama-campaign-bans-cell-phones-new-york-fundraiser

ETpaws on September 18, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Sooooooooo…

… What’s been going on around here today?

Seven Percent Solution on September 18, 2012 at 5:30 PM

I know this is not a regular poll…but it is interesting. 75% agree with Romney.

Terrye on September 18, 2012 at 5:32 PM

I think Romney will get a bump from this.

MrX on September 18, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Keyboard bounce. Make that 20+

I give myself a D-

Del Dolemonte on September 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Hey, we grade on the curve in Obamaville now – you earned a solid B+.

Adjoran on September 18, 2012 at 5:37 PM

“An ambassador killed, 2 seals killed, embassy’s stormed, mass protests, and a Marine fixed wing squadron virtually destroyed in A-stan with its CO as one of the KIA….and they think Romney has has a bad couple weeks?”

rayra on September 18, 2012 at 7:08 PM

If he’d said, “Politicians have long been in the habit of buying votes with taxpayers’ money, but I’ll put an end to that,” the press couldn’t have squealed so loudly, but it means essentially the same thing.

flataffect on September 18, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Yes, Romney has lost. He is just like the Democrats who couldn’t understand why the poor would vote for Bush. Because they love America. When you Republicans finally find a man who believes in America you will whine about him just like you whined about George.

Observation on September 20, 2012 at 10:03 AM

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