WASHINGTON -- When Mitt Romney told donors he'd never win the support of Americans who don't pay income tax, he may have been ceding more than a few of his lowest-income supporters. Thirty-four percent of voters in households making less than $24,000 a year prefer Romney over President Barack Obama, according to a poll released Tuesday by Gallup.
Romney predicted that everyone in that 47 percent would vote for Obama "no matter what."
"There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing," he said in the videotaped talk to wealthy donors.
The Gallup results suggest, however, that while income plays a factor in voters' choice of candidates, more so among the highest and lowest earners, the groups aren't monolithic. More half making less than $36,000 support Obama, while more than half earning above $90,000 support Romney. But neither candidate breaks 60 percent among any income group. Voters in their 70s, meanwhile, are among Romney's staunchest supporters by age group. The Gallup results are taken from 9,839 voters interviewed for daily tracking polls from Aug. 27 to Sept. 16, with a 1 percent margin of error.
A significant number of Americans do believe the government has a responsibility to provide care. A Pew Research Center poll this spring, using wording similar to Romney's, found that 59 percent of Americans agreed that "it is the responsibility of the government to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves," and that "the government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep." Nearly eight in 10 of those with low incomes agreed with the latter statement, compared with about half of those considered high-income. Opinions on the questions also showed a deepening partisan rift, with most Republicans disagreeing with both statements.