Editorial: These voters are 'victims'?

  • Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 3:57 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has acknowledged speaking “inelegantly” when he described the 47 percent of voters likely to support Barack Obama as government-dependent “victims” who “believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”
Just as Obama had his "guns and God" moment in the previous campaign, in which he appeared to speak condescendingly of heartland Americans, Romney is now doing damage control over his remarks at a May fundraiser. What's more telling than any inelegance, however, is the mischaracterization of Obama supporters, based on 2008 exit-polling results. In the revisionist mythology of electoral politics, the bulk of the president's support in 2008 supposedly came from those who are black, who are poor, who are young, who are Hispanic or some combination thereof. While he certainly polled strongly among those groups, Obama wasn't exactly the paupers' candidate. In fact, he found considerable favor among the well-heeled, according to demographic data compiled by the Roper Center at the University of Connecticut. In 2008, those earning between $75,000 and $99,000 made up 15 percent of voters, and 51 percent of that group voted for Obama, vs. 48 percent for John McCain. Those earning $100,000 and above made up 26 percent of the electorate, and they were evenly split between Obama and McCain, who each polled 49 percent of that income group. Even in the economic stratosphere of those earning $200,000-plus, Obama got the nod from 53 percent of that group. So are we to assume those high-earning Obama supporters - who include business owners, investors and well-off retirees - view themselves as "victims" who can't (or don't want to) make it on their own? Or is voter motivation more complicated than a Harry Potter "hat sorting" exercise? Granted, the bulk of those earning less than $30,000 per year heavily favored Obama in 2008. However, that group made up only about 18 percent of the 140 million people who voted, and it included many older Americans who supported McCain (and benefit from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid). That doesn't mean those who voted for Obama in 2008 will support him again this year, by any means. But just as it's absurd to characterize all Romney supporters as disconnected fat cats who have little concern for struggling fellow citizens, it's foolish to lump Obama voters into some sort of victimhood basket. Obama has support among the "1 percent" - and Romney almost surely has fans among Americans who don't pay any income tax, especially considering that it was tax cuts or credits pushed by the GOP that removed many of them from the federal tax rolls.

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