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Romney’s ’47%’ Comments Criticized, But Many Also Say Overcovered

So-So Grades for Obama’s Campaign, Worse Grades for Romney’s


Mitt Romney’s statement that 47% of the public is dependent on government has registered strongly with voters. Fully two-thirds of voters (67%) correctly identify Romney as the candidate who made the comments. Among those aware that Romney made comments about the “47%”, more than half (55%) have a negative reaction while just 23% react positively.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Sept, 27-30 among 1,005 adults, including 828 registered voters, finds that large percentages of Republican (65%), Democratic (65%) and independent voters (72%) know that Romney described nearly half of the population as dependent on government and paying no taxes.

The reaction among those aware that Romney made the comments is clearly negative. Yet they also think that news organizations are giving too much coverage to Romney’s “47%” statement. Nearly half of voters (49%) who know that Romney made those remarks say news organizations are giving the story too much coverage, while just 13% say they are giving it too little coverage; 28% say the amount of coverage has been appropriate.

The survey also finds that, more generally, voters are not too impressed with the jobs both candidates done in attempting to win them over. Only about half of voters give Barack Obama grades of A or B in convincing them to vote for him. Even fewer voters give Romney grades of A or B for persuasiveness.

GOP Voters’ Mixed Views of Romney Comments

Overall, 55% of registered voters who identify Romney as the candidate who made the “47%” comments have a negative reaction to them, while fewer than half as many (23%) have a positive reaction . Nearly one-in-five (22%) react neutrally (19%) or have no opinion (3%).

Democrats overwhelmingly react negatively to Romney’s comments (88%). And 55% of independents who are aware of Romney’s comments say they have a negative reaction; just 18% view his comments positively.

GOP voters aware of Romney’s statement have mixed opinions: 54% react positively, while 29% have a neutral reaction or don’t know, and 17% react negatively.

Voters with lower family incomes who are aware of Romney’s statement have a highly negative reaction to them: 69% of those with family incomes below $30,000 express negative views of Romney’s 47% comments, compared with about half of those in higher income categories.

In terms of how the press has covered Romney’s comments, a sizable majority of Republican voters (74%) say the press has them given too much coverage. Nearly half of independent voters (48%) also say Romney’s remarks have gotten got too much coverage, while just 29% of Democrats agree.

Grading the Campaigns

Voters grade the Obama’s efforts at winning them over far less positively than they did four years ago. In October 2008, 65% of voters graded Obama at A or B for convincing them to vote for him, while 32% graded him at C, D or F. Today, just 46% of voters grade Obama at A or B, while about as many (50%) give him a grade of C or lower.

Obama’s grades today are about the same as John Kerry’s (46% A or B) and George W. Bush’s (42%) in October 2004. Obama also gets about the same grades as did Bill Clinton in 1996, during his reelection campaign.

In September 1996, 50% rated Clinton’s efforts to persuade voters at A or B, while 47% graded them at C or lower.

Romney’s current grades are in line with John McCain’s marks in 2008 and Bob Dole’s in 1996. Currently, 31% of voters give Romney’s campaign a grade of A or B. In October 2008, 34% gave McCain’s campaign a grade of A or B, while 29% gave Dole’s efforts positive grades in September 1996.

Currently, Democrats’ grades for the Obama campaign are more positive than GOP voters’ grades for the Romney’s. Nearly eight-in-ten Democratic voters (78%) give Obama a grade of A or B for convincing them to vote for him; 62% of Republican voters give Romney equivalent grades. Independent voters also give the Obama campaign higher marks (42% A or B) than the Romney campaign (26% A or B).

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