On Sunday, the New York Times explained the basics of Mitt Romney’s opposition to the Obama Administration’s bailout of General Motors and Chrysler and what Romney would have done differently (plus the White House’s retort that Romney’s alternative — finding an infusion of private capital — was unrealistic). What the Times story didn’t offer was a clear sense of how damaging this position might be to Romney’s prospects in Michigan, where the automakers’ comeback has been an economic godsend. But a poll released Sunday gives us an answer:
Romney’s bailout stance isn’t hurting him. 34% of voters say they’re more likely to vote for someone opposed to the bailout, while only 27% consider that opposition a negative. 35% say it doesn’t make a difference to them either way.
I’d also wager that the 27% of Republicans who consider opposing the bailout to be a negative are probably relative moderates — it’s the hardcore Tea Partyers who loathe government interventions — and therefore are likely to support Romney anyway.
Of course, given that Rick Santorum also opposed the automaker bailout, this probably wasn’t going to be a decisive issue. But Romney’s opposition was somewhat more visible, and bluntly stated (i.e., “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”). Santorum has also made the reasonable argument that he opposed the Detroit bailout on principle, whereas Romney supported the bank bailout — and thus that “he supported his friends on Wall Street but did not support the auto industry.”
This is all interesting, but perhaps significant around the margins. That same poll’s evidence that Romney is already closing the gap against Santorum in Michigan affirms my belief that Romney’s carpet-bombing TV ad campaign will prove too much for the former Pennsylvania Senator to withstand.