Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin advise us that about 46% of Americans self identify as dog people, 12% as cat people, and 28% as both dog and cat people. In all, an overwhelming three-fourths of Americans are down with the dogs.
I share this market segmentation because it may explain why first Newt Gingrich and today Rick Santorum are bringing up the bizarre tale of Mitt Romney reportedly strapping his crated Irish Setter Seamus onto the top of the family vehicle for a lengthy family trip at highway speeds. Reportedly, when Seamus relieved himself mid-trip, due to fear, stress or bursting bowel, Mitt hosed the mutt, and put him back on top.
Grrr, say the dog lovers. Ruff stuff.
Most political consultants will tell you that “Who would I rather have a beer with” really is a relevant political metric. So, is this also a relevant political metric: “Who would I rather have dog sit my little snookems?”
In all seriousness, this will end up costing Governor Romney votes. At best, it makes him look like an oddball, and makes you wonder what other weird ideas lie beneath the hair gelled facade. At worst, it makes him look completely heartless. For a guy struggling mightily to connect with ordinary families, 74% of whom are dog people, this story just can’t be helpful.
Many issue wonks dismiss these kinds of human interest-type controversies as irrelevant. But in an election where the issue positions of the GOP candidates are very similar, and, at this stage, very familiar, these water cooler topics will impact voter opinions on a gut level, both now and in the General Election.
In politics, spouse abuse has long been verboten. It is very difficult for wife beaters to get elected. In this groundbreaking 2012 election, we will soon see whether dog abuse has an impact.