Pretty much everyone seems to believe Mitt Romney’s wealth is a liability. The Democrats have united around a strategy that portrays Romney as too rich for America’s taste. Some of Romney’s rivals have sought votes there as well. The Washington Post takes another whack at Romney about his wealth. Everyone agrees on this–everyone, that is, except actual voters.
Public Policy Polling, a liberal-leaning firm, finds that Romney has seemingly overcome his tax-return foibles, consistent with what other polls have found as well. The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis couldn’t get voters on the trail to disparage Romney for his wealth, even when MacGillis admittedly called them back “and pressed further” in an attempt to get voters to change their minds and please bash Romney’s wealth. They consistently refused his entreaties, however. But delve just a bit into the PPP results and there’s an uncomfortable truth for the media:
If you want a clue as to why Romney releasing his tax returns hasn’t hurt him one little bit in Florida consider this: 68% of Republicans in the state have a favorable opinion of rich people to only 8% with a negative one. Romney’s up 47-32 among those who like rich people. Here’s a simple reality: in a GOP primary it’s an asset to be rich and successful, not a liability. Attacks on Romney along those lines just aren’t going to be effective with Republican voters. Additionally only 14% of voters have “major concerns” about Romney’s overseas bank accounts, while 56% have none at all.
Republican voters just don’t hold his wealth against Romney. MacGillis had been talking to swing voters who sometimes vote Democrat and sometimes Republican. They, too, for the most part weren’t angry about Romney’s wealth. So who is? Liberals, it seems. An article in Politico a few days ago inadvertently shed more light on liberal voters’ sense of political xenophobia:
The academic standards for president have been rising since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Bill Clinton was the first Rhodes scholar. He handed the Oval Office keys to our first M.B.A. president, George W. Bush.
Barack Obama held one of the highest post-graduate honors, editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review. The presidential and vice presidential nominees on every Democrat ticket in the past 20 years have a post-graduate degree. This is also true of the only successful GOP ticket in this period, Bush (M.B.A.) and Dick Cheney (M.A.).
There has never been a Ph.D. president during the modern era or anyone holding two post-graduate degrees, or a medical license. President Harry Truman never even graduated from college.
The article notes that despite their education levels, Truman, Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson were the most consequential presidents of the post-war era. Could Truman, the authors wonder, even get elected today?
The answer is yes–as a Republican. As the article explains, this year’s crop of Republican candidates is extremely well educated–perhaps the best such group of candidates yet. So Republican voters are obviously not antagonistic toward the well educated. But Republicans have also pushed back against the narrative that those who were not educated at elite universities aren’t fit for higher office–and been pilloried as “anti-intellectual” for it.
As far as educational standards go, Republicans will nominate both the elite and the non-elite. They will support rich candidates or those closer to “the common man.” And a look back at polling tells you they are more likely to support a Mormon for president than Democrats are. Liberal voters, then, have an educational bias, a religious bias, and a class bias. So it’s really no wonder that mainstream media outlets and a liberal president are pushing the class warfare narrative: it turns out liberal voters are a closed-minded bunch.