With Independent Voters, Crategate Bites

What do independent voters make of the odd story of Governor Mitt Romney scaring the crap out of his dog by strapping him in a crate to the top of his car at highway speeds? Clark Griswold benign? Cruel and unusual?

According to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted last week:

• By more than a 5-to-1 margin, independent/other voters thought Romney’s treatment of the family dog was “inhumane” (66% said “inhumane”, 12% said it was “humane”).

• By a 12-to-1 margin, independent/other voters said the incident makes them less likely to choose Romney (36% said “less likely”, 3% said “more likely”).

• 55% of independent/other voters had no opinion of Romney on the subject of dog treatment, indicating the story is familiar to about half of Americans at this stage of the campaign.

This issue is not as prominent as “Obamneycare” style flip-floppery. But with the swing voters who will decide the election, Crategate elicits more bite than lick.

– Loveland

15 thoughts on “With Independent Voters, Crategate Bites

  1. Jeremy Powers says:

    It always worries me about polls when “3 percent” are more likely to vote for Romney because he did this. I’m not saying this should be the defining moment for Mitt Romney, but either the 3 percent are lying intentionally, are the worst form of dog-hating human or clearly didn’t understand the question.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      My guess: They don’t hate dogs. They’re flipping off the pollster for asking a question they hate.

  2. Erik says:

    This is a bit silly. PPP essentially backs their survey participants into a rhetorical corner.

    ‘Does Crategate make you less likely to vote for Romney’ is going to be answered “Less” by most sane people. There’s certainly no counter-intuitive ground to stake out in defense of Crategate, nothing there that makes you more likely to vote for Romney.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Which is exactly my point. It’s untenable. The more it is discussed, the worse it is for him. The problem isn’t the question. The problem is the original Seamus decision is indefensible.

      If you asked voters if Wienergate made people less likely to vote for Representative Wiener, the fact that he gets a lousy finding isn’t an indication of a poor question. It’s an indication an untenable situation for Represenative Wiener. Same with Crategate.

      (Also, keep in mind that participants could always answer “doesn’t make a difference”, which 59% of indies did. So I’m not buying that they were intentionally painted into a corner by PPP. They had an easy out if they didn’t feel Crategate made them less likely to support Romney.)

      If you wanted to learn about the political impact of this story, or lackthereof, what poll question would you ask?

      1. Erik says:

        I’m not sure. I have a difficult time getting past the unambiguous triviality that I see this for at first glance.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        The other thing I’d say about the wording: The word “inhumane” is a big hairy word. It sets the bar very high. As vehemently as you and I disagree about various things, I’ve never said things you have said or done things are “inhumane,” or lacking pity or compassion, and you have never said that about me. “Inhumane” is just not a word most of us throw around lightly. Yet two-thirds of independents said that red hot adjective fit here. That seems like it speaks to some depth of feeling.

      3. Erik says:

        I don’t think the word applies. It’s a dog, and one that was generally treated well. But pets are nonetheless livestock for all intents and purposes.

        He’s got no history of unhumaneness, and does have a history of humaneness where it’s important – to people. We know this. He’s an eastern noblesse-oblige social contract Republican who spent most of his one term as governor firming up his state’s social safety net.

        None of this should be confusing, but I grant this will circulate as a meme and perhaps do oblique damage. Still, I expect the electoral map will look a lot like 2004, and Romney will also pick up MA, NH, ME, maybe even WI.

  3. Jeremy Powers says:

    The question reminds me of one the National Lampoon did years ago, as a gag, during the height of the Iran Hostage Crisis.

    The question was: Should we feed and clothe the Iranians like our brothers or nuke ’em ’til they glow.

    As angry as people were in those days, no one was going to say they wanted to feed and clothe.

  4. Joe Loveland says:

    From Huffington:

    A longtime Democratic donor is launching a million-dollar super PAC devoted to telling the story about Mitt Romney’s act almost three decades ago of putting his dog in a crate atop a car for a 12-hour drive to Canada.

    Politico reports that Bob McDevitt has filed paperwork to launch Animal Lovers Against Romney and that the group has a $1 million budget for anti-Romney Internet ads in 10 battleground states. The group’s website’s name, http://www.MittIsMean.org, borrows a motto from an informal online protest movement known as Dogs Against Romney.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Ms. Romney claims the dog loved being strapped on top of the car, for seven hours, at highway speeds. This seems unlikely because I’ve never heard of any other dog with this particular fetish. But I guess it is remotely possible. And it may also be possible that the crapping down the side of the car was from sheer joy.

      But even accepting all of those unlikely claims, here is where I get absolutely stuck. For Mr. Romney to have learned that old Seamus loved riding in a crate on top of the car, at highway speeds, the entire day, Mr. Romney had to have put him up there a first time. That first time he put him up there, he didn’t yet know the dog loved it. That initial decision seems like a pretty severe act of animal cruelty. Even if Mr. Romney later learned the dog adored the extreme stress and dehydration that comes from spending an entire day in a wind tunnel, Mr. Romney didn’t initially know Seamus had this odd preference the first time he tested the doggy double decker theory.

      No matter how much benefit of the doubt I give him, this story gets under my skin.

  5. PM says:

    Now it looks as if the Romney camp is taking this whole thing a lot more seriously–they are engaging in the “but so did you” defense, pointing out that Obama ate dog when he lived in Indonesia (where, of course, this would be legal and not a violation of any cultural norms or taboos).


    As a dog lover myself (I own three currently, all mixed breed muts–and one brave cat) I have to admit that I did try dog meat once–in China. Nothing that great, really. I did enjoy the horse steak that i had in France, however.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Such a silly comparison.

      The act of a 9-year old boy vs. the act of a grown man.

      An act that the prevailing culture views as being as normal as, well, a daily meal vs. an act that the prevailing culture views as an act of cruel “inumanity.”

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