Yesterday's now infamous leaked video in which Mitt Romney said it was his "job not to worry about those" 47 percent of people who don't pay income taxes has certainly provided lots of fodder for his enemies. But even Romney supporters ought to be upset. The fact that their nominee has written off trying to make inroads with lower-income voters is absolutely bonkers, especially in Florida. One needs only to look at George W. Bush's electoral success in the Sunshine State to realize Republican nominees at least have to carry some of that 47 percent.
The falsities and conflations of Romney's class warfare-stoking rhetoric have been discussed at length today around the web, but even when you boil down Romney's private remarks about strategy to donors to remove the controversy, you'll find it's a ridiculous electoral strategy. The idea that as a Republican running for President you shouldn't worry about the way the lower class votes just doesn't hold water, especially in Florida.
Let's take a look at the vote breakdown in Florida of lower-income demographics for Republicans in the last three elections:
Floridians who make less than $15,000 a year:
- Bush, 2000: 37.4 percent
- Bush, 2004: 40 percent
- McCain, 2008: 33 percent
Floridians who make between $15,000 and $30,000 a year:
- Bush, 2000: 36.2 percent
- Bush, 2004: 39 percent
- McCain, 2008: 37 percent
Floridians who make between $30,000 and $50,000 a year:
- Bush, 2000: 47 percent
- Bush, 2004: 48 percent
- McCain, 2008: 39 percent
And, now just for fun, let's look at the Republican vote split for all Floridians making $50,000 or less a year while also including data from Romney from the most recent CNN poll [link to PDF]:
- Bush, 2000: 41.7 percent
- Bush, 2004: 43 percent
- McCain, 2008: 37 percent
- Romney, 2012: 34 percent
Of course, Bush won Florida. McCain lost. Even in 2000 he did better among lower-income Floridians than McCain did in 2008, and improved upon his original numbers among that group in 2004 to claim a definitive, controversy-free win.
Polling indicates that Romney is actually doing worse among lower-income voters than McCain did. To make matters worse, Romney isn't doing any better with wealthier Floridians than McCain did either. The Obama-McCain split of Floridians making more than $50k was 44-55. According to that recent poll, it currently stands at 45-53.
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Many have speculated that Mitt Romney can't win the election without winning Florida. Well, it appears that he's not going to win Florida without reaching out to lower-income voters. Though, after the release of that video he may have a hard time.
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