Are you a moocher?

Time and again, we’re told that a gaffe is a “game changer” that reframes an election. But polls rarely bear this out. In fact, the polling in this election has been remarkably consistent, regardless of whether the gaffe is Romney’s or Obama’s. Yet the media are trying to frame Romney’s remarks as a much broader attack on everyone who gets Medicare, or on every soldier. Mother Jones reporter David Corn, who publicized the fundraiser video, accused Romney of turning the election into “a battle between strivers (such as himself and the donors before him) and parasitic free-riders who lack character, fortitude, and initiative.” Most Americans think of themselves as strivers, though, not as moochers. Seniors and soldiers view Tricare, Medicare, and Social Security as something they’ve earned; they don’t think of it as an entitlement. And Romney continues to poll strongly among seniors—he’s up by 19 points in that group, according to the latest Rasmussen poll. How will criticizing half of Americans as lazy moochers hurt Romney with seniors? It’s a sentiment many Americans—not just seniors, not just conservatives, and not just those at the top financially—agree with. While Romney’s comment is a reminder of the candidate’s tin ear, it’s likely to be just another gaffe that changes little.