Mitt Romney says he's not worrying about persuading the "47 percent" of Americans "who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it." Instead, Romney wants to focus on the "the five to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful."

But it's worth remembering that a significant majority of these independent voters also hold a strong view of the safety net: They believe that the government should help those in need—and that it should guarantee basic food and shelter, according to a Pew poll that Jim Tankersley flags.

In June, Pew found that 59 percent of independents believe that the government "should help those who cannot help themselves." Moreover, 58 percent believe that the government should guarantee minimal food and shelter. Those views have weakened slightly over the past few years, but they're still held more strongly by independents than self-identified Republicans, whose support of the safety net has plummeted:

(Source: Pew Research Center)

Some of these independents may agree with Romney that more of those receiving government assistance are able to help themselves. But most independent voters also believe that the government should "guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep."