Romney doesn’t care about you unless your rich

Now that fellow super-rich Mormon Republican has endorsed Mitt Romney, I’m sure this is just what he needed to win the nomination.   Anyway, nice recent post by John Sides looking at how attitudes about Romney’s wealth are related to attitudes about what types of people Romney cares about:

But the data get worse for Romney in another sense: how these indicators are correlated with each other.  The better one thinks “personally wealthy” describes Romney, the better one thinks that “cares about the wealthy” describes him (the correlation is 0.60).  But the same correlation for Obama is much smaller (0.18).  People’s perception that Obama is personally wealth does not translate as strongly into the perception that he cares about the wealthy…

So here is the problem that Romney confronts.  Americans perceive him as personally wealthy more than they do Obama.  They perceive him as caring more about the wealthy, but less about “people like me” and the middle class, than does Obama.  Moreover, Obama can “get away with” being perceived as personally wealthy or caring about the wealthy in ways that Romney cannot.  For Americans, Romney’s personal wealth is more intimately tied to the perception that he cares about the wealthy—and this in turn implies that he cares less for the middle class.

I give “the American people” and public opinion in general a hard time a lot here.  I’ve got to say, though, I think they’ve got Romney pretty much dead to rights on this.  Given Romney’s numerous plutocratic turns of phrase about “envy” and such as well as his lived experiences, it seems pretty safe to me that this is a man who neither understands, not particularly cares about, average Americans all that much.  Of course, if the economy does not continue on it’s improvement, that won’t stop him from being president.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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