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’47 percent’ > ‘You didn’t build that’

Some gaffes hurt more than others, and the new NBC/WSJ/Marist poll finds Mitt Romney's comments on the "47 percent" are more damaging for the Republican nominee than President Obama's "you didn't build that" comment is for him. 

Even before this poll came out, Republican strategists were acknowledging that Romney's words, leaked in a video from a closed-door fundraiser, had taken a much larger toll than the average rhetorical blunder. A Washington Post-ABC News poll earlier this week found that 54 percent of those polled regarded Romney’s comments in an unfavorable light, while 32 percent saw them favorably, with independents strongly negative. 

This poll compares the two lines, both of which have been pummeled repeatedly  in speeches and ads.

In the survey, 36 percent of registered voters felt more positive about Obama after hearing his argument that no one succeeds alone, while 32 percent felt more negative and 26 percent said the comment made no difference. 

Meanwhile, 45 percent of registered voters reacted more negatively to Romney after hearing that he believes nearly half of Americans are dependent on government and thus will support Obama no matter what. Only 32 percent viewed Romney more positively; 24 percent said the comment did not make a difference to them. 

The pollsters asked voters to respond to a paragraph-long description of each quote. The description of Obama's words includes context that was left out of Romney's ads and attack lines; the description of Romney's words does not include the candidate's subsequent attempts to recast his remarks as anti-dependency. 

But the Post poll simply asked, "Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Romney’'s recent comments about people who don’'t pay income taxes?" and got an even more negative result. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.



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