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47% Agree: Romney’s Maths Stink

Before you leap up in fury, let me start by saying I am not going to mention taxes, or entitlements, or anything like that. There is no need. Whenever a politician enters a two-horse race saying that 47% will not vote for him, you already know he is lying. You do not need to look at polls. You need listen to his rationalizations. All that matters is the statistic, which says the candidate has entered the campaign with the belief they will finish second. Perhaps 47% will only vote for candidates with chest hair, or maybe they vote against candidates with prominent nasal hair, or maybe they have very strong feelings about facial hair. The supposed motivations of the electorate are not at issue. When a candidate says 47% will not vote for him, the first response should be to ask: “then why bother running?” Though it may seem possible to overcome a 47% handicap, by securing the votes of the remaining 53%, the truth is that those maths are too simplistic. Either Romney has absolutely no idea how to win (a possibility, given the dire state of his US Presidential campaign), or he is lying about the scale of the challenge he faces.

This is what Romney said about 47% of Americans:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

And the video is here, if you want to check…

Romney is running a billion-dollar campaign. For the sake of a billion dollars, here are three simple reasons why Romney should know better.

Turnout

Obama won comfortably in 2008, but he did not get the votes of 47% of the people. He came nowhere near. A lot of people, including taxpayers and benefits recipients, do not vote. In 2008, out of an estimated 208 million eligible voters, Obama received votes from 69.5 million of them. Obama received 52.9% of the votes cast, but only received the support of 33.3% of the people. Even in a high-turnout landslide like 2008, the President won with the support of just one person in three.

If Romney is seriously forecasting that 47% of the people will turn out for Obama, then he told his donors to back a candidate in the most one-sided contest in US Presidential history. Even in the 19th Century, when turnout was sometimes over 80%, no candidate was backed by more than 42% of the population. Fortunately for Romney, the polls have never suggested that 47% of the people will back Obama.

Swing Voters

Let us be more generous to Romney, and grant that he meant ‘voters’ when he said ‘people’. This dramatically changes his assertion, and makes it more credible. But it also strips the assertion of meaning. If more people make the effort to go to the polls and cast their vote for Romney, then the percentage of Obama’s vote goes down. It is nonsensical to assert that a fixed percentage will vote for Obama ‘no matter what’. A person might vote for Obama ‘no matter what’, but a percentage is influenced by both the number of votes for Obama, and by the number of votes in total. So whilst Romney is trying to make a point about swing voters, his point is clumsily expressed. But even permitting Romney the most generous interpretation of his words, the statement is still untrue.

To claim that Obama cannot fail to receive less than 47% of the votes, is also to insist that Mitt Romney and the Republicans are deeply unpopular. Romney is saying he is unable to find voters who will support him, even whilst the Democrats have command of millions of Americans. The truth is that the independent portion of the vote is far too volatile to justify this nonsense. According to 2008 exit polls, Obama took 52% of independent votes, and McCain received 44%, giving an 8 point spread. In the 2006 elections for the House of Representatives, the Democrats did even better, winning the independents with an 18 point spread over Republicans, when measured across the whole country. But in 2010, the spread went the other way, with Republicans taking the independent vote by a massive 19 points. By saying Obama cannot do worse than 47%, Romney is also saying he cannot reach swing voters that voted for Republican candidates in 2010. In the 2010 House elections, the Democrats received just 44.8% of the nationwide vote. There is no good way to reconcile this fact with Romney’s claim that no less than 47% will vote Obama.

Senior Citizens

There is no need to go into fine detail to prove that what Romney says about taxpayers and voting intentions is false. The 47% who will supposedly vote for Obama includes very many in retirement. In general, polls say that Romney does much better with older voters than younger voters. He cannot afford to write-off a voter just because they live in modest retirement. The polls say many seniors were prepared to vote for Romney, irrespective of the fact that they pay no income tax. This is the data per Gallup:

Older Americans who have low incomes are those who have the highest chance of paying no income tax. But the Gallup data for the period Aug. 27 – Sept. 16 show that among those voters aged 65 and older who have $24,000 a year in income or less, Obama wins, with 49% of the vote, but 43% support Romney.

43% of poorer seniors were supporting Romney, before they realized what he thinks: that none of the folks who retire on a meagre pension have the slightest sense of personal responsibility. After finding out what Romney says to rich folks about poor seniors, some of them may be thinking twice about whether to vote Romney. Romney’s words reveal a haughty disdain for millions of Americans who paid their taxes during their working life, and who do not deserve to be squeezed for more tax during their twilight years.

Since his outlandish views became public knowledge, Romney has doubled-down on the language of entitlement and responsibility, as if he has nothing to apologize for. If Romney wants to learn about responsibility, he should look at the people who have laboured for decades, who retired to a small pension, and still believe in the importance of hard work. They will continue to believe in hard work and paying taxes, irrespective of the insults given behind their backs, by billion-dollar clowns who dance to whichever tune pleases their donors. Romney should cut the whining nonsense about why voters support Obama, take a look in the mirror, and ask himself the question he has clearly never been able to answer. For all his money and good looks, why do so few people like Romney? The answer has nothing to do with the taxes or entitlements of the American people. It has everything to do with Romney’s sense of entitlement, and his inability to justify it.

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