Did Romney’s conservative shift help him or hurt him?
What’s the net effect on Romney support? Even though strong conservatives have become much more supportive of Romney, they constitute a tiny fraction of the electorate. Most voters are moderate. In the YouGov survey, for instance, only 11% placed themselves at 5 on the ideology scale. In contrast, 36% placed themselves at 3. So, across all learners, Romney’s shift turns out to have hurt him by about one percentage point—not much, but everything counts in an election as close as this one.
According to these findings, the 2012 campaign has fulfilled one of its main roles in democracy: it has informed voters about Romney’s new policy stance. Moreover, in contrast with my findings in other elections, voters have shifted their vote intentions accordingly, probably because voters who care about ideology had something new to learn.