Digby noted earlier that Romney's derogatory statements about the "47%" may hurt him substantially by lowering his support among the demographics he most needs to win the election, especially seniors and lower-income whites. I think she's right.
One always wants to be careful about making broader judgments based on personal anecdotes, but anecdotes can nonetheless help exemplify trends that may be occurring among the broader electorate. If the story I'm sharing today is any indication of a trend in the broader electorate, Romney is in some serious trouble.
As a County Democratic Party Chairman (in Ventura County, CA), I get a lot of phone calls throughout the day from voters and volunteers with various complaints and requests, usually about minor details. But one call from yesterday struck me in particular. A man who sounded like a caucasian in his 60s or 70s had called our field organizer but wanted to speak to me directly about picking up as much swag and material for President Obama as he could, from lawn signs to bumper stickers. Curiously, he wanted to let me know that he was not a Democrat and not particularly political. But, he said (and I paraphrase based on my best memory of the conversation):
"I just couldn't believe he said that. I was shocked when I heard it. I can't believe someone in either Party would say something like that about Americans. Let me tell you something. I've worked hard my entire life, never took a handout from anybody. But Romney just treated me like I'm nothing. Like I'm less than nothing. I'm one of the 47% that he's talking about. I'm retired on a modest income after a lifetime of working to support myself and my family. That guy has no idea what he's talking about. But I just wanted to tell you personally that I'm not a big fan of either Party, but I want to buy as many different kinds of Obama stuff as you can give me, because that just isn't right. I'm pretty upset."
Ben Domenech and other conservatives have been consoling themselves that most of Romney's voters, even if they're in the 47%, don't actually see themselves that way (they work for their handouts, of course):
Here’s the thing: gaffes of this nature have to have real victims in order to be workable. What helps Romney in this situation is that no one thinks they’re in the 47%. Even if they are! No one who was thinking of voting for Romney yesterday is standing up today saying “he’s criticizing me!” here.Maybe. But I'm not so sure. I think there may be a lot of people out there like the one who called me yesterday: conservative-leaning independents and working-class whites and seniors who hear Mitt Romney and do understand that he's talking about them.
That's ultimately the biggest problem with the 47% meme for Republicans, both during the 2012 election and beyond. It's just too big a number to work well as a dog whistle to stand in for minorities and various "others." When the plutocrats and their enablers spout that statistic, it shows even white, older Americans that the plutocrats despise them, too, and have just been playing them for dupes and fools the entire time.
Cross-posted from Digby's Hullabaloo