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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Poll: Romney's Wealth Not an Asset

Mitt Romney at Bain Capital
Mitt Romney's got a little bit of a problem -- he's crazy-rich. Normally, this would be the opposite of a problem, but this is an election year. In fact, this election year -- where Americans are still struggling to recover from rich people driving the economy off a cliff -- it's even more of a problem. In fact, polling shows that almost no one sees Romney's wealth as a positive.


Three-quarters of registered voters say the fact that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is worth more than $200 million makes no difference to their likelihood of voting for him. However, 20% of voters, mostly Democrats and independents, say Romney's wealth makes them less likely to vote for him, while 4% say it makes them more likely...

The Obama campaign has targeted Romney's wealth in recent weeks, stressing his net worth and how he earned it as head of Bain Capital, where he has invested it, and the fact that he has not released all of his tax returns from the last decade. Obama's campaign is apparently using Romney's wealth in its efforts to convince voters that Romney is not as well-equipped as Obama to understand the problems and needs of middle- and lower-class Americans. The Romney campaign has pushed back, stressing that voters are more interested in fixing the economy than in the candidates' personal financial situations.

Gallup's July 9-10 results show that most Americans say Romney's wealth does not matter. Those who say it does make a difference tilt five to one toward saying it makes them less likely, rather than more likely, to vote for him for president.

Since only 4% see it as a positive and 20% see it as a negative, the fact that most don't care either way is pretty much irrelevant, math-wise. Romney loses vastly more votes than he gains when his wealth is brought up (in fact, he gains almost none) and, in what's expected to be a tight election, that may be enough to cost him the presidency right there.


Which is what makes the President's attacks on Romney's record at Bain Capital so smart. It's a double-duty message -- Mitt's record as a private sector "job creator" is awful and, by the way, the guy's richer than Scrooge McDuck because of it. Sure, Romney's hitting back, but the facts speak for themselves. And the Gallup poll shows Romney's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't; if he doesn't answer Obama's charges, it makes them seem as true as they are. If he does, he verifies the fact that he's fabulously well-to-do, hopelessly out-of-touch, and biased toward families not at all like your own.

"The Obama campaign is focusing on Romney's wealth in an attempt to position him as the candidate whose policies will benefit the wealthy and increase the gap between rich and poor -- juxtaposed against Obama's positioning as the candidate who will do more for the middle class," Gallup reports. "Most Americans claim Romney's wealth will not affect their vote, perhaps reflecting Gallup research showing that the majority of Americans believe the U.S. benefits from having a rich class and would themselves like to be rich. Still, enough Americans generally and independents specifically say Romney's wealth makes them less likely to vote for him that it could in theory make a difference at the margins in some key swing states."

There really is no bright side to this for Romney, as he's forced to keep talking about how rich he is. This was supposed to be an asset -- Americans confuse business sense with economic competence -- but it's not. It's most definitely not.

It's an anchor. And Team Obama's tying him to it.


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