(Photo: REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
A strong majority of Americans say that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's business record, including as head of Bain Capital, would help him make good decisions on economic issues if he were president, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll. The poll results come after President Barack Obama's campaign has, for months, spent much of its time and money attacking Romney's business record.
"Would Mitt Romney's business background, including as head of Bain Capital, cause him to make good or bad decisions as president in dealing with economic problems?" USA Today/Gallup asked 1,030 adults Thursday through Sunday.
Sixty-three percent answered "good decisions" while only 29 percent answered "bad decisions." The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.
The Obama campaign has claimed, through ads, interviews and speeches, that Romney's record as head of Bain Capital suggests he would make a poor president. Romney was an "outsourcing pioneer," the campaign claimed, which helped companies employ foreign workers instead of American workers, and Romney made himself rich while stripping workers of jobs and benefits.
"You've got to give the voters credit -- economic reality trumps campaign rhetoric," Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse told USA Today. "It's pretty clear that the negative weight of the economy is having more impact on voters than President Obama's campaign ads distorting Gov. Romney's record."
Ben LaBolt, spokesperson for the Obama campaign, told USA Today that other polls suggest that attacks on Romney's Bain record are working and the arguments will damage Romney more in the long run.
A July 5-8 Washington Post/ABC News poll asked, "is Romney's work buying and restructuring companies before he went into politics a major reason for you to support that candidate, a major reason to oppose that candidate, or not a major factor in your vote?"
About the same number (23 percent) said it was a major reason to support Romney as said it was a major reason to oppose Romney (24 percent). Most, 50 percent, said it was not a major factor.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week shows similar results. Thirty-six percent of registered voters, including 26 percent of registered independent voters, say that what they have heard about Romney's record as head of Bain makes them less favorable toward him. Eighteen percent of registered voters, including 13 percent of registered independents, say they are more favorable toward Romney after hearing about his Bain experience.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,195 adults, including 962 registered voters, was conducted from Thursday to Monday and has a plus or minus 3.7 percentage point margin of error for registered voters and a plus or minus 8.7 percentage point error for independents.
The USA Today/Gallup poll also shows an enthusiasm gap that favors Republicans. Fifty-one percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they are enthusiastic about the election, compared to only 39 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who say the same.
Additionally, a record number of Americans seem to favor Romney's philosophy of a smaller, less intrusive, government over Obama's philosophy that government should be playing a larger role in helping Americans. Sixty-one percent say that government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals, the highest that number has been since 1992 when Gallup began asking the question.
There is some good news, though, for the Obama campaign in the poll. By two to one, Obama is rated as more likeable than Romney and he holds a double-digit lead when asked which candidate better understands the problems Americans face in their daily lives.