MEMO: What do voters think about Romney’s business record?
TO: Interested Parties
FR: Bill Burton, Priorities USA Action
RE: Sunday Memo: What do voters think about Romney’s business record?
While criticism of Romney’s business record may not resonate with elites, it is clearly resonating with the actual voters who will decide this election. New independent data this week replaces theoretical banter by pundits with empirical evidence from voters. Middle class Americans across this country are concerned about Romney’s record of profiting from bankruptcies and are affected by the stories of people like Loris Huffman and Pat Wells who lost everything so that Romney could make millions.
According to a report by ABC’s Amy Walter, a focus group in Richmond showed that voters are familiar with Priorities USA Action advertising and connect Romney’s business record to an overall economic system that too often feels rigged against the middle class. New polling from two different organizations show Romney’s business record is already beginning to serve as a drag. By a 4-1 margin, independent voters said Romney’s business record made them less likely to vote for him.
Throughout this race, Mitt Romney has made his supposed private sector job creation experience the defining qualification for the Presidency without explaining how his time as a corporate buyout CEO prepares him to represent all Americans or create jobs. Contrary to his unsupported generalizations about his time as CEO, Romney and his firm often made millions in profit while driving companies to bankruptcy, slashing jobs and eliminating promised health and retirement benefits.
For voters across the country, profiting from failure and breaking promises to employees illustrates that Romney would not stand up for the middle class as President.
ABC’s Amy Walter: “It is clear that ads attacking Romney for his record at Bain Capital have penetrated.” According to ABC’s Amy Walter who reported on focus groups in Richmond and Las Vegas, “As for Mitt Romney, he remains a blank slate. Most of these women knew little to nothing about him. But it is clear that ads attacking Romney for his record at Bain Capital have penetrated. Stephanie and Rebecca voted for McCain in 2008, but both expressed worry over Romney’s business record. When asked by the moderator what they’d heard or seen about the campaign so far, Rebecca replied, “That whole thing where factories have shut down, that concerns me. … That’s scary because I work for a small business.” “Little guys like us are like a gerbil on the wheel, OK?” she said. ”Where’s my break? We don’t get anything other than another day of work”” [ABC News, 6/8/12]
Reuters: “In the aisles of Wal-Mart, Bain is a four-letter word.” According to Reuters, “Female shoppers at the big-box superstore are viewed as crucial swing voters in the closely fought 2012 election, and a pair of recent focus groups suggest that Obama's attempts to portray Republican rival Mitt Romney as a ruthless corporate raider might bear fruit…"The main thing I've heard that kind of scares me is ... the whole Romney thing, where all these people, the factories that have been shut down where they've worked over 30 years and then they are left with nothing," said Rebecca W., a participant in the Virginia focus group whose last name was not given. "That concerns me."” [Reuters, 6/9/12]
CNN’s Maria Cardona: “Focus group shows Bain image hurting Romney.” According to CNN contributor Maria Cordona, “When asked to use one word or phrase to describe Romney, the words or phrases they used included "Don't know that much about him," "selfish, "businessman who is concerned with making himself some money," "concerned about the wealthy," "can't be trusted," "scares me," and "lackluster" -- again, echoing some of what is being said in the Bain ads around the country.” [CNN, 6/8/12]
LA Times: New Purple Poll Shows Criticism of Romney Business Record Works. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Across the 12 battleground states the monthly poll surveys, 47% of likely voters said they agreed with the statement that private equity firms “care only about profits and short-term gains for investors. When they come in, workers get laid off, benefits disappear, and pensions are cut. Investors walk off with big returns, and working folks get stuck holding the bag.” By contrast, 38% agreed that “private investment and equity firms help the American economy grow. They launch new companies and rebuild existing ones, including some of the biggest employers in America. Their work has created millions of jobs, and will help drive America’s recovery.”… the attack on Romney’s record at Bain has “the hallmarks of a classic wedge issue for the president,” Purple Poll analysts wrote. “It consolidates Democrats (64% to 22%) and has a plurality of support among independents (48% to 38%).”” [Los Angeles Times, 6/7/12]
Public Policy Polling: Independents, by 40-11 margin, say Romney’s private sector experience makes them less likely to vote for him. Moderates, 48-8, say the same. By a 40-11 margin, independents say “Mitt Romney’s work at Bain Capital” makes them less likely to support him. Among moderates, it is a 48-8 margin. [Public Policy Polling, Conducted: 5/31-6/3]
Bruce Gyory: Wall Street Journal Polls Shows Romney Weakened by Continued Focus on Bain According to Bruce Gyory, a professor at University of Albany, “The more the spotlight hits Bain, the worse it could get for Romney. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that voters have a negative reaction to Bain of 19 percent, compared to 9 percent positive. If this 2 to 1 negative ratio holds as more voters form opinions on Bain, Romney will be weakened.” [Newsday, 6/7/12]
Conservative Byron York: “The average independent voter in Ohio doesn't live in a private equity world.” According to conservative columnist Byron York, “Since those Democrats are also in the center of the media world, their criticism of Obama for hitting Romney on Bain received a huge amount of attention. But the average independent voter in Ohio doesn't live in a private equity world, and the Purple Poll suggests his or her reaction to the Bain issue is quite different.” [Washington Examiner, 6/7/12]
Priorities USA Action Advertising on Romney’s Business Record:
World View: http://bit.ly/MSuBfa