Poll: "You Didn't Build That" Quote Didn't Actually Hurt Obama, but "47%" Hurt Romney

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 3 2012 12:10 PM

Poll: "You Didn't Build That" Quote Didn't Actually Hurt Obama, but "47%" Hurt Romney

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The new NBC/WSJ national poll, the one that shows Barack Obama up 3 with likely voters, goes on to ask people what they think of some campaign-changing quotes. First up: "You didn't build that."

Screen shot 2012-10-03 at 11.40.34 AM

This poll's got a 32% Democratic, 20% Republican sample. Can we safely assume that people who like Barack Obama like "build that," and people who dislike Obama don't? If so, sweet fancy Moses was the Republican convention ever a bust. "WE BUILT IT" signs were distributed across the arena. Speaker after speaker "rebutted" the quote. The misleading edit of the quote was played ad infinitum on video screens. And nobody cared who didn't already care.

But there's another question in this poll.

Screen shot 2012-10-03 at 12.05.34 PM

So "47 percent" was everything "you didn't build that" was supposed to be -- a groaner that pissed off people who weren't really decided on Mitt Romney. That's because "you didn't build that" Magic Word Gaffe that didn't make sense unless you already literally believed that Barack Obama hated small business like Gollum hates hobbitses.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.