There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.
Romney collapses three facts into one here.
- It is true that 40-some percent of Americans would cast their vote for the Democratic candidate no matter what. (And of course the same is true of voters inclined towards Republicans.)
- It is also true that about 40-some percent of Americans pay no income taxes. (Although quite a few of these pay taxes into medicare, social security, sales taxes, etc.)
- It is also true that 40-some percent of Americans get some kind of government transfer payment.
Of course one major flaw in Romney's analysis is that these groups just aren't the same group, in spite of some overlap. Among the 40-some percent of folks receiving government transfer payments are quite a few farmers and senior citizens. These folks tend to vote for Republicans, not Democrats. Among the poor who don't pay income taxes (but don't necessarily get government transfer payments, these folks constituting what we call the working poor) are quite a few social conservatives who love Mitt because he'll get rid of gay marriage and protect their guns.
Romney calls a group 47% and then makes it equal in membership to every other group that is 47%. (Which would almost be forgivable if any of these groups were actually 47% rather than "about 40-some percent.") It'd be like saying that 30% of Americans are white males and 30% of Americans believe in UFOs so it's obvious that all white males believe in UFOs. I don't even know what category of logical fallacy that falls into. "Things with the same numerical value have the same membership" fallacy? In any case, it seems unsurprising that a man who has such a tenuous grasp of numbers would be trailing in the polls.
(Next - Family Values, What Romney Was Trying to Say, and How an Unreported Shift in Demographics is Changing Politics)