The largest percentage of campaign news this past week was in regard to Mitt Romney’s ‘47 percent’ — a statistic he quoted at a fundraiser representing the percentage of Americans who do not pay income tax and sustain themselves primarily on government assistance programs, according to the Romney campaign.
“There are 47 percent of people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney told attendees of a small campaign fundraiser before describing the group as the unemployed, low-income, government-subsistence and tax-exempt Democratic half of the electorate.
According to the most recent poll of likely voters taken by the Associated Press, 47 percent is exactly the portion in the president’s camp for four more years, with Romney claiming the remaining 46 percent. Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau does state 49 percent of Americans claim some form of federal assistance, with 46 percent of households in the U.S. paying no income tax in 2011. However, all three figures are far from overlapping perfectly on either side of the partisan fence.
The largest portion of federal assistance claims provide for far more than just the low-income or non-tax paying households, which only make up about one-third. A lot of funding goes to subsidies for water purification, farming and energy initiatives like federally regulated nuclear power plants -— conveniences Americans all partake in every day. Within the tax figure, the overwhelmingly largest beneficiaries of tax-exemptions resulting in diminished government revenue come from write-offs claimed by the smallest and wealthiest percentage of Americans — including Romney himself.
Despite earning more than $1 million a year just from his stake in Bain Capital (the finance company of which he was C.E.O.), Romney pays less than 15 percent on his income per year through a tax loophole known as “carried interest.” This is roughly 20 percent less than he otherwise would be paying.
So, who exactly does make up the 47 percent Mitt Romney places in the president’s corner “no matter what”?
According to the same poll, more than 60 percent of current Democratic votes are employed, with more than 40 percent having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, and more than 50 percent earn over $50,000 per year. Only five percent claim to be temporarily unemployed.
Among polls taken by Reuters and Gallup in the wake of the comment going viral in the news-media, 43 percent of voters view Romney less favorably than before the speech was released, and 60 percent said his perspective was unfair in regard to the “47 percent.”
Of poll participants, 67 percent said they identified more with the “47 percent” Romney was referencing than with the fundraising attendees at the speech.
And in all, 36 percent say they are now less likely to vote for Romney since seeing the speech in a video online.