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Are Romney’s Ads on Welfare Working?

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Romney-Ryan 2012 Republican Candidates

This week Nate Cohen of The New Republic took up this question.

To win the presidency, Romney will need to consolidate nearly all of the undecided, predominantly white working class voters with reservations about Obama’s performance. The problem is that the Obama campaign has long possessed a strategy to block Romney’s path to victory: Depict Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat bent on annihilating the middle class. In contrast, Team Romney hasn’t really crafted a specific messaging strategy built to appeal to particular demographic groups. They’ve seemed to believe that generic ads criticizing the president will be sufficient to persuade voters with Obama reservations to join Romney’s side. For the most part, though, these ads haven’t moved the needle, in part because the president is already extremely well-known.

But the ads alleging that Obama dismantled the welfare work requirement are different— and potentially more effective. For one, they’re targeted to appeal directly to white working class voters, as many others have pointed out. And unlike other attacks on Obama, the welfare advertisement introduces new information that voters probably didn’t know—which can be more effective than other ads that simply stress facts that voters already internalized. (Never mind that this information is new because it isn’t true.)

A couple of weeks ago, I turned to C-SPAN to discover a covered meeting of State health officials asking HHS for waivers on the Welfare law passed under Clinton. These State officials, both under Republican and Democratic state governments, argued that some of the law’s restrictions and requirements made it much harder for them to accomplish the intended goals of the legislation. What they wanted was more autonomy to accomplish the goals that better suited the nature of their populations. The State officials made compelling arguments for the waivers.

That HHS and ultimately President Obama approved those waivers signals that this Administration is listening to and working with the States. Further, as HHS states, the work requirements remain in place but allows States to alter some restrictions on how they accomplish their task.

Regardless of these facts, though, Romney’s campaign continues to deceive voters to drive white working class prejudice to boost his voter favorability, regardless of the fact that most Welfare recipients are white. Recent statistics show that Welfare recipients among both Black and Hispanic are lower than among the White population.

The Romney’s Welfare ads are sleazy, divisive, and complete lies. His campaign needs to be told that American voters deserve better than trashy lies.

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