For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the millions of Republican voters Romney insulted with those remarks don’t believe he was talking about them. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be quite a few otherwise Republican-leaning voters who will recoil from Romney’s contempt for almost half of the population. Even if they don’t realize how many of his own supporters Romney insulted, Republican-leaning voters that were already suspicious of Romney because of his background and wealth now have another reason to distrust and dislike him. It’s not as if Romney inspires trust or goodwill to start with.
A reader made a similar point in our reax: "Every Independent in this country at least knows and cares about somebody who is going to vote for Obama, and they don't want to think of those people as leeches." Millman defends his position against a different critique here.