Focus groups couldn’t believe it. Romney’s leaked tape makes it credible.

When an Obama SuperPAC convened focus groups to find out what people might think about Romney and his proposed policies, they discovered something odd.

When they “informed a focus group that Romney supported the Ryan budget plan — and thus championed ‘ending Medicare as we know it’ — while also advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing.”

Take a moment to consider that. It just didn’t seem possible anyone would propose and support what Ryan proposed and Romney supported.

And when the Obama campaign, drawing from a study from the Tax Policy Center (interestingly, the source of the 47% figure Romney cited in the leaked tape) said that Romney would raise taxes on the middle-class, while cutting services to the poor and cutting taxes of the rich, the Romney campaign hit back.

Romney’s leaked tape increases the credibility of these accurate messages.

In the leaked tape, Romney talked about his tax cut plank and complained that 47% don’t pay enough taxes because they don’t pay federal income tax.  (He didn’t mention that, because has little income subject to ordinary income tax and payroll taxes, he pays a lower rate than most people in that 47%.)

Romney also said people who rely on government health care programs have a sense of entitlement and lack ambition. He certainly doesn’t come off as someone who would protect and defend these programs.

Medicare, of course, is the health care program for people 65 or older. Over twenty-percent of the 47% derided by Romney as unable to demonstrate “personal responsibility and care for their lives” are elderly.

Putting these together, what Romney said at the fundraiser, as captured in the leaked tape, makes credible what the focus groups didn’t believe.

In other words, the leaked tape makes the Obama campaign’s job easier when it comes to making these policy arguments.

Update: A New York Times article about the leaked tape quotes Senator Susan Collins saying of Romney, “He has just not brought sufficient clarity to what his vision for America is.”  And it’s true that Romney has not really explained the details of his tax, budget and health care policies, which are — if not unbelievable to people — unpopular.  But these particulars surely will be presented, if only by the Obama campaign, to a public that’s heard what Gov. Romney said to his wealthy donors.

And here’s an ad out, tying these unpopular policies to Romney’s statements in the leaked tape:

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.