Following the big Mother Jones release of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney'shidden-camera comment on the "47 percent" of Americans "who will vote for the president no matter what," my colleague at The Atlantic, David Graham, posted an article Monday looking at the real "47 percent." Using the Tax Foundation's data on 2008's income tax non-payers (people who filed a tax return but did not actually owe federal income taxes), he found that the states with the highest rates tended to be traditionally Republican states. Graham writes:
Romney's statements are a little unclear, but it appears that the 47 percent figure represents all of those who pay no income tax, rather than the Democratic base. His problem is that those people are disproportionately in red states -- that is, states that tend to vote Republican...One important note about these numbers: This measures only those Americans who filed for taxes with no liability. Millions more didn't even file; it's those millions, added to the estimated 52 million here, who combine to make that 47 percent.