Are the Bain Attacks Working?

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All summer, Barack Obama has blanketed the swing-state airwaves in an attempt to sway the sliver of the electorate still up for grabs. The ad assault has attacked a series of related issues: Mitt Romney’s refusal to release additional tax returns, his offshore bank accounts, his former firm’s record of outsourcing jobs abroad and laying off workers at home. But they all fall under a single theme: the presumptive Republican nominee is an impossibly rich man whose decisions will benefit his own kind, not the middle class. So has the offensive worked?

It’s not a satisfying answer, but … yes and no. The presidential horse race remains relatively static. Embedded in the polling, however, are signs that the attacks have inflicted a toll on Romney’s standing with voters. At the same time, the Republican maintains a significant edge on the economy, which most observers expect will be the defining issue of the campaign.

First, the damage. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll illustrates how the broadsides have blunted Romney’s appeal to voters. Four in 10 respondents say they have an unfavorable impression of the presumptive Republican nominee, compared with 35% who feel favorably — an ignominious distinction that none of the previous three Republican nominees have shared. In a Reuters/Ipsos poll out this week, 36% of registered voters say Bain’s outsourcing record has tarnished Romney’s appeal. Roughly the same number say they view the former Massachusetts governor less favorably because of what they have heard about his tax returns. A similar survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, found that 40% of respondents, including 47% of self-described moderates, said Romney’s work at Bain Capital made it less likely he would receive their vote.

And yet the Democratic attacks haven’t shaken the foundation of Romney’s campaign, which is that he is the candidate better equipped to resuscitate the economy. The NBC/Wall Street Journal survey found that voters think Romney has better ideas for improving the economy by a 7-point margin, 43% to 36%. In a USA Today/Gallup poll released this week, 63% of respondents said Romney’s business experience — which the Chicago re-elect team has sought to highlight as proof he won’t represent middle-class interests — is an asset when it comes to making sound economic decisions.

Out of the reams of data, I pluck these specific numbers for a reason. Facing economic headwinds that seem unlikely to shift much before November, Obama’s best path to victory is to invalidate his opponent’s credentials — to make the race “a choice,” as he likes to say, rather than a referendum. As many have observed, the best recent analog to the strategy is George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign against John Kerry: the embattled incumbent, at a disadvantage on the election’s keystone issue (in that case, the Iraq war), tries to raise questions about his opponent’s character. So it’s significant that Obama has chipped away at Romney’s likability and opened a 2-to-1 edge, according to the USA Today/Gallup survey. As Jamelle Bouie writes, the Swift Boat attacks didn’t sink Kerry all at once; it took four months until the Democrat’s campaign began taking on water in earnest. The Bain attacks may be following a similar trend line.

By the same token, the Romney campaign must be heartened that despite the fusillade, it has an advantage on the election’s central issue. Apart from outlier polls, “there has been no statistically significant movement in Romney’s support during the past three months,” as William Galston argues. Thus far, super PACs have kept Romney afloat; while combined Republican spending exceeds the Obama campaign’s tally, Romney has yet to mount a real aerial attack of his own. The Republicans’ cash advantage will surely widen in the coming months. Which means the present deadlock is not a bad place for the challenger to be.

To some degree, the tangled polling makes sense. It’s reasonable for undecided voters in Northern Virginia, forced to watch Obama’s ads at every commercial break, to conclude both that they don’t particularly like the Republican nominee and that his economic acumen tops the President’s. The Bain attacks aren’t really a bid to undermine Romney’s business credentials. Rather, they are a way to accentuate them, in the hope that fence sitters conclude Romney has used that wherewithal to advance his own interests and would do the same if he were put in charge of the country’s.

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James
James

my

classmate's aunt brought in $17781 a week ago. she has been working on

the internet and got a $464800 condo. All she did was get fortunate and

follow the guide reported on this website http://www.LazyCash49.com

James
James

what Sylvia

responded I cant believe that a mom can get paid $6346 in a few weeks on

the internet. did you see this website

http://www.LazyCash49.com

borisIII
borisIII

Romanies economic plan is to strip down the US and give the profits to the rich.  Just like he always did with his businesses.

3xfire3
3xfire3

Figures don't lie, but liars use figures.

NBC/WSJ Poll 7/22/12 ...1,000 Registered voters....Obama 49%...Romney 43%

Gallup Poll 7/24/12.........3,050 Registered Voters....Obama 45%...Romney 46%

Rasmussen 7/25/12.........1,500 Likely Voters...........Obama 44%...Romney 48%

The smaller sample by NBC/WSJ also consisited of 12% more Democrats than Republicans.

Good job of using selective information Alex.

James
James

like Donald

answered I didnt even know that people able to profit $4634 in one month

on the computer. have you read this site link

http://www.LazyCash49.com

James
James

my buddy's

step-mother made $15294 last week. she is making money on the internet

and got a $550200 house. All she did was get blessed and put in action

the guide exposed on this web site

http://www.LazyCash49.com

sacredh
sacredh

It's looking more and more like the debates are going to be "must see" tv. I'm curious to see if there's going to be any questions about the off-shore and Swiss accounts. I'd almost bet there's going to be a "Fast amp; Furious" question.

noschwag
noschwag

I just don't understand how people can't see this guy for what he is.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Will you cry much when Barry loses the election, Alex?

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

I for one won't, 'cuz I don't think "Barry" will.

What makes you so sure he will lose?

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Poll results are determined by the way the questions are worded. I wonder how Romney woud have fared on the economy if the question had been, "Do you think that letting Detroit go bankrupt, letting the housing market hit bottom, and giving the biggest tax breaks to the wealthiest people in the country is the best way to revive the economy?"

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

 GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection under Obama. Check the record.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Romney and people like you, Kevin, will try to twist reality, but the simple fact is that Romney would have let the Chinese or Koreans or someone else buy General Motors and Chrysler on the cheap, and, instead, Obama stuck his neck out and gambled on Americans, and he thus saved the auto industry for the benefit of Americans. Most Americans, the ones who are not blinded by greed, racism,  and jingoism, recognize that Obama made the correct decisions for Americans and Romney did not, though Romney later tried to claim the credit, what a weasel!

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

...thereby making American workers more competitive, even if that means a loss of pay and benefits.

Thank you, doctor, for a successful operation.  However, we regret to inform you that the patient died, not DESPITE your treatment, but BECAUSE of it.

Look on the bright side, though... you'll have a great conversation piece at the next trustee's meeting.... you know how much they appreciate any improvements to the "bottom line".

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

So we only have Japanese people working at all the Toyota plants in America?

You people make me laugh.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

By the way, Obama is 14 points above Romney in Michigan, 53% to 39%. Wonder what the good folks in Michigan know about the auto industry that you don't know?

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

And let me go on to say this. Obama can run around all he wants trumpeting his bailout of GM and Chrysler as success stories. And okay his administration doled out the stimulus monies, which did help the economy pull back from the brink. But and it's a very big but, the last two years are littered with examples of corruption that will be forever tied to his administration.

But despite all that, the biggest revelation about Obama's lack of concern for creating policies that would have helped private enterprise create jobs came out this past week. In essence, Obama has been MIA when it comes to trying to help fix the economy. His time spent fundraising versus time spent in economic meetings will go down as the most shameful part of his presidency. Obama has LITERALLY done nothing to help private enterprise spur real economic growth that somehow isn't tied back to TARP or stimulus spending.

He has done nothing to change the massive structure problems that face out economy. Scott Walker in WI, facing down the unions, did more for the long-term good of this country than Obama even dreamed of doing.

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

Sorry, Dan, put GM and Chrysler didn't go through normal bankruptcy. You're living some twisted reality yourself. Here's a good read that explains how Obama gave them the sweetheart deal of the century:

http://washingtonexaminer.com/...

And no, Romney would not have allowed the Chinese to waltz in and buy GM and, or Chrysler. It just wouldn't have happened, and you're one or more of the following for suggesting it: naive, an idiot, or mindless, liberal hack. Rather, Romney would have limited the government's involvement more, thereby reducing the risk of taxpayer money.

Whether you like it or not, Unions are EVERY BIT AS MUCH TO BLAME for lost American manufacturing. And the primary prerequisite for improvement is for unions' power to be removed, thereby making American workers more competitive, even if that means a loss of pay and benefits.

filmnoia
filmnoia

The national polls are really irrelevant at this point, and will be so for at least the next two months, but it gives the MSM an opportunity to go with the horse race BS. In the battleground states that are going to determine who wins 270 electoral votes, Obama still has a steady and fairly comfortable margin.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

And it's no coincidence. Many swing states got hit by Bain and of course Mitt's "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" won't be forgotten in MI even if his dad was a more reasonable leader.

rickterp
rickterp

I guess a low-information voter who isn't paying a lot of attention might be inclined to think Romney has better ideas of how to improve the economy -- he hasn't actually expressed any of these ideas, but if you're not really paying attention, it's easy to miss that fact and go with your general impression that a super-rich guy must know how the economy works.

The problem is that, once the campaign gets going in earnest after Labor Day, Romney will have to, well, actually talk about his specific ideas for the economy. At that point, we'll see whether the swing voters who are giving Romney the benefit of the doubt on the economy right now will so thrilled with what he's selling. A combination of the Paul Ryan budget plus Ari Fleischer's "the rich pay too much in taxes" (and presumably the working and middle classes not enough) might be a hard sell.

anon76returns
anon76returns

@Alex.  OK, horserace stuff aside, are the ads true?  Do they give an accurate impression of Romney's business experience?  Do they provide any sort of barometer for how he'd govern?

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

It's the candidate's willingness to respond--and fast--to his opponent's jabs.  Bill Clinton, for all his troubles, was a master at it; Kerry didn't do it and look what happened. 

Momney cannot continue to goof off--er, take trips abroad--until Labor Day.  If he wants any shot at the presidency, "I'm not HIM" ain't gonna cut it as a reason to vote for him.

kafantaris
kafantaris

"Take care of your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves."

Or, "take care of the country and your reelection will take care of itself."

The wisdom of this was missed by the President's handlers who also misjudged the savvy of the independent voters. Why else would they have bombarded them with dumbed down TV ads? 

Somebody should have told them that these folks are sitting on the fence for a reason, and it is not a lack of foresight. 

Indeed, it takes more foresight to figure out things yourself  than to merely follow one herd or the other. And deciding the things you care about does take time. 

Yet, independent voters also need help. Though they do not blame the President for all of the country's problems, or expect him to solve them overnight, they do expect him to stay on the task day by day.

Yes, honest effort is what they want, but they are not seeing it lately.  Perhaps this is because the President's handlers are too worried about losing their jobs to let him do his.  But he is the President and he should get them all out of his way to focus on running our country.

Besides, keeping his nose on the grindstone might be the best way to convince the independents that he should get more time to finish out the job.

destor23
destor23

I think it's time for Time to stop comparing this in morally equivalent language to the George Bush/Boone Pickens assault on Kerry's well-documented Vietnam heroism and military service. Candidates for public office are generally questioned about their personal finances.  This is not novel.  Candidates running on the basis of their business experience are generally questioned about the substance and results of the decisions they made in pursuit of their profits.  This is nothing at all like trying to rewrite the books on what happened to a military veteran on a battlefield.

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

The Bactine Kid was a coward in Vietnam. That's why he sought a way to leave nine months early. Most people who served in Vietnam would have laughed at the wounds Kerry claimed Purple Hearts for. None of them caused Kerry to miss a single day of duty.

jmac
jmac

" . . what Kerry said . . "  

Groenhagen - I grew up in the military (father career) and my husband is retired from the Air Force.  I heard a lot about what the troops thought of Vietnam and it wasn't what you and the darling Cheney's spew as you and they play patriotic jingoism - everyone in the military isn't an idiot. 

anon76returns
anon76returns

I'll take the words of the folks who served on the boat with Kerry over yours, Kevin.  And I don't mean to imply that that was a particularly difficult decision.

anon76returns
anon76returns

"The majority of those who served with Kerry in Vietnam have questioned how he received Purple Hearts. Check the record."

Good idea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...

"Of those who served in Kerry's boat crew, only Stephen Gardner joined SBVT. He was not present on any of the occasions when Kerry won his medals, including his Purple Hearts.  All other living members of Kerry's crew supported his presidential bid, and some frequently campaigned with him as his self-described "band of brothers"....No members of SBVT were aboard Kerry's boat during any of the incidents for which he was decorated."

I guess by "majority of those who served" you mean "not a single one".  No wonder you have such a problem interpreting polls.  Out of curiosity, which part of semper fidelis do you interpret to mean "its OK to engage in libelous public slandering of the character and actions of your fellow servicemen"?

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

The majority of those who served with Kerry in Vietnam have questioned how he received Purple Hearts. Check the record.

pollardty
pollardty

STTUHAD.   

 

Support The Troops Unless He's A Democrat.

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

 jmac:

"It's heart-breaking what Republicans do to those who served if they

simply put a D behind their name.   It's ruthless, unpatriotic and shows

exactly what they're made of. "

What's truly heart-breaking is what Kerry said about those who served in Vietnam when he spoke before Congress.

jmac
jmac

It's heart-breaking what Republicans do to those who served if they simply put a D behind their name.   It's ruthless, unpatriotic and shows exactly what they're made of.   

filmnoia
filmnoia

Thunderbolts from the  cretinous moral coward. Hey Mr. Semper Fi , how many papers did you shuffle at your desk during your tour?

Kerry is 20 times the man who could ever hope to be.

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

 If Kerry were a man, he would have completed his tour in Vietnam like other men did. Someone had to take Kerry's place when he left early. What if that guy got killed?

And exactly when and where did you serve, Skippy?

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

I'd have a Coke and a smile...if I were you.

[fill in the ... 's]

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

The Bain attacks are there to "define" Romney and to subject his business record to close scrutiny.  The big blow will come when Team Obama attacks Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts.  The question is why is Mitt Romney not talking about his record as governor?

filmnoia
filmnoia

Is that a rhetorical question? His so-called one "accoplishment" as gov is something that is anathema to his own party, and he has backpeddled from it as far as he can. Otherwise, his record consisted of lost jobs and 47th out of50 states in job creation. As far as being a businessman, he didn't create products, he was more of a banker, squeezing companies dry and making money for rich investors.

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

Before Alex and his fellow liberals get too excited, note that the polls respondents included 44% who are Democrats or lean Democrats, while just 35% were Republicans or leaned Republicans. NBC, like other polling outfits, is using outdated data that show Democrats outnumber Republicans by 9%. Gallup polls use updated data, which places the parties at parity.

http://www.nationalreview.com/...

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

By 'outdated data' Kevin is referring to the respondents in a random sampling contacted for the poll itself

NRO is counting on the ignorance of their audience as to how polling actually is conducted in order to reassure them.

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

"Pollsters don't select whether their talking to D's or R's. They call people at random and let the chips fall where they may. If more D's answer the phone its because more D's answer the phone. You can't just wish them away."

You have no idea what you're talking about.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

=

I'll never agree with you on anything

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

 You obviously have a reading comprehension issue.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Pollsters don't select whether their talking to D's or R's. They call people at random and let the chips fall where they may. If more D's answer the phone its because more D's answer the phone. You can't just wish them away.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 But you are parroting your compatriots lame insults just fine Groeny.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

[@kevin]

You were for polls you liked before you were against them....

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Or, like you, we just pick and choose which polls we like, right?

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

I'm for polls that correctly weight Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Giving Democrats a 9-point edge is going to result in a skewed poll.