Mitt Romney has a blunder problem.
It started years ago, but it really seem to take off with Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom’s, “It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch” comment. Since then, we’ve had “7-11 cookie gate,” Mitt dissing the Olympics host country’s preparedness for the games, mentioning the head of MI-6, and so on.
Until recently, most of the blunders haven’t been substantively rich. (A couple of exceptions: “Corporations are people too, my friend!” and an old Op-Ed with the title, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt!”.)
But the two most recent blunders are really different—they are likely to leave a lasting and meaningfully negative impression of Romney in the minds of many Americans.
The botched statement following the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in Libya was factually wrong, repulsively insensitive, and wholly unpresidential. It was a sign of a campaign in desperation, trying anything to the exclusion of taste, good judgement, dignity, and statesmanship.
Mitt’s Blunder of the Week this week reveals Mitt Romney to be a duplicitous asshole. He was caught dissing 47% of Americans—saying things he would never say out in the open—to an elite group of wealthy donors at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser.
Romney’s statement removed all doubt that he has contempt for less fortunate Americans and views their circumstance not even with indifference, but as some sort of blight on the rest of America.
We now have a couple of polls to assess the negative effect of Romney’s statement on people:
Reuters/Ipsos: The statement makes 43% of voters viewed Mitt Romney less favorably.
Reuters/Ipsos: 59% felt Romney was unfairly dismissing a big chunk of Americans as victims.
Gallup poll: The statement makes 36% less likely to vote for him.
Gallup poll: The statement makes 20% more likely to vote for him.
The effect on the race? Although the latest blunders will not be fully captured in aggregate state head-to-head polling for a couple of weeks, we can look at other more immediate indicators.
The average of national polls has moved in Obama’s favor over the past week. The Real Clear Politics average has moved up from a tie two weeks ago to about a +3% advantage for Obama. Likewise, Intrade Prediction Market has seen Obama’s share price surge to its highest median price ever.
Mitt Romney just pulled a reverse Etch-A-Sketch. He has been tacking back to the center from his “severely conservative” (a.k.a. Teabaggy) position he needed to get him through the G.O.P. primary. He has now “reset” himself to a position that is far to the right of most Americans.
He’s no longer viable.
What remains to be seen, is how much down-ballot damage he can cause….