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Political Insiders Poll

How much has Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comment hurt his candidacy?


Very damaging: 78%
Damaging: 22%
Not damaging: 0%


Very damaging

“His condescension and disdain for average Americans comes through loud and clear—that’s why Obama campaign keeps running the TV ad. It’s bad, and it’s in his own words.”

“Someone called it third-party validation of what Romney’s critics say about him, but it was far worse. It was first-party, personal validation. Gotta love those smartphones.”


“How convenient when a candidate says something that completely and totally reinforces everything his opponent has been saying about him.… Kind of like, ‘I was for it before I was against it.’ ”

“Absent a counter defining moment, it has changed this election and put Obama on a winning path.”

“Voters assumed he was elitist; he confirmed it. Confirmed elitists don’t get elected POTUS.”

“Na, na, na, na … hey, hey … good-bye!”


“It reveals either who he is or whom he will pretend to be—neither is a pretty picture.”

“It underscored just how out of touch with the real America he is. Half of the ‘47 percent’ vote is Republican!”

“I was surprised how damaging it’s been. Usually, when Republicans attack ‘those people,’ those people assume that they’re talking about someone else. Now that he’s put a percent on it, I guess people realize that Romney is talking about them.”

“Prior to the comment, Romney was holding blue-collar, noncollege voters; now, they’re leaking. Badly.”


“It’s not so much that the comments were damaging; it’s that he’s running out the clock when he’s behind. There were around 50 days until the election, and this wasted about a week. He keeps stepping on his message of the bad economy.”

“Not as bad as it could have been. Most of the people he was offending thought he was talking about somebody else.”


How much has Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comment hurt his candidacy?


Very damaging: 18%
Damaging: 68%
Not damaging: 14%

Very damaging

“Alienating disabled vets, retirees, and the unemployed is not a prescription for GOP success.”

“He gave voice to the worst caricatures some have of Republicans: uncaring, selfish, and arrogant.”

“Half of the 47 percent are/were Romney supporters. He doesn’t understand the cultural makeup of today’s partisan coalitions.”


“How many more times can he reinforce the perception?”

“Gave a hook for the always-scrounging liberal media. Self-inflicted reinforcing [of] an image the media wanted to focus on.”

“The incident wasn’t so bad as the spin. Instead of using this as an opportunity to talk about the appallingly large number of Americans on assistance, it became an apology for not doing something more elegantly.”

“Damaging, not because it cost him votes but because he was unable to get his own message out for more than a week. It helped the Obama campaign skate on the Libya issue and ‘bump in the road.’ ”

“People want empathy, regardless of the facts. This makes it easy to spin that Romney is an elitist.”

“Amazingly, Romney is still in the ball game. Bad news for Barack.”

“It demonstrates poor political instincts, which is shocking in a candidate at this level. There were many ways to make his point without damage. The real problem is his tone-deafness to political discourse. Not a good sign.”

“Never tell the customers you don’t want their business.”

Not damaging

“His comment was no big deal, but the campaign’s response was lacking and lame. People are ready for a big debate over the growth of government—Romney/Ryan & Team need to give it to us.”

“I would say equal to Obama’s ‘You didn’t build that’ statement.”


Should the National Republican Senatorial Committee and other outside groups spend money to help candidate Todd Akin in Missouri?


Yes: 35%
No: 65%


“Romney will win the state in a walk—and his voters will vote for who? Not [Claire] McCaskill.”

“He’s not really outside their mainstream thinking, and she’s so beatable. They’ll be kicking themselves if they fall one seat short of the majority.”

“Regardless of the criticism they will get from our side, it is political malpractice to not support Akin.”

This article appears in the October 6, 2012 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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