Mitt Romney has made his business acumen the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. His business experience, he says, means he understands the economy and knows how to create jobs. President Obama’s campaign is working furiously to turn that message on its head.
Key to that effort has been Priorities USA Action, the scrappy super PAC backing Obama that has launched a series of attack ads focusing on Romney’s record at Bain Capital. Their push to turn Romney’s asset into a liability is working, the group says in a memo released Wednesday morning.
Polling commissioned by Priorities USA from the Democratic Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group and Global Strategy Group shows that voters in key swing states are now wary of Romney’s business background.
“Clear negative trends have emerged,” the memo says, claiming that Romney’s business experience is now hurting more than helping the presumptive nominee. Thirty-seven percent of voters in five key swing states said that Romney’s experience at Bain Capital has made them less likely to vote for Romney. Twenty-seven percent said it makes them more likely to vote for him.
The polling also drilled into the 11 media markets where Priorities USA has been running its numerous Bain attack ads, which feature workers who were laid off under Bain Capital and compared opinions there to “attitudinally very similar” markets that didn’t see the ads. Consistently, Obama’s lead was greater in the markets where the ads had aired.
Where voters saw Priorities USA’s ads, according to the memo, Obama leads Romney by 5 points more than in markets without the ads; Romney’s unfavorables were 4 points higher where voters were exposed to the ads. Forty percent of voters who saw the ads said Romney’s Bain experience made them less likely to vote for the candidate compared with 34 percent in sample of those who didn’t see them.
Priorities USA’s fundraising struggles, particularly compared with the flush war chests of the Republican outside spending apparatus, have been well-documented. The memo is likely a nod to fundraisers and an attempt to prove how effectively their donations are being used.
But recent polls back up the findings. A June 26 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 33 percent of swing-state voters see Romney’s business experience negatively versus just 18 percent who see it as a positive.
The polling for Priorities USA Action was based on 3,800 total interviews with likely voters between June 25 and July 3, in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.