MEMO: Mitt Romney’s Central Qualification Becomes a Significant Liability
TO: Interested Parties
FROM:Jefrey Pollock & Nick Gourevitch, Global Strategy Group; Geoff Garin, Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group
RE: Priorities USA Action Polling Memo
Mitt Romney’s Central Qualification Becomes a Significant Liability
Priorities USA Action advertising on Romney’s business record effective in moving attitudes
Mitt Romney’s business experience – the centerpiece of his case for the presidency – has proven to be
much more of a liability than an asset in key swing states. Clear negative trends have emerged in recent
polling conducted in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia by Global Strategy Group and
Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group on behalf of Priorities USA Action. The following memo summarizes
the findings of five statewide polls consisting of over 3,800 total interviews with likely voters between
June 25 and July 3, 2012.
Voters in swing states view Romney’s main selling point – his business experience –
- 37% of voters say that Romney’s business experience at Bain Capital make them LESS likely to vote for him. Just 27% say it makes them MORE likely to vote for him.
- 58% of swing state voters now say it is true that as a businessman, Romney's priority was making millions for himself and his investors, regardless of the impact on jobs and the employees
In all five of these swing states, more voters have an unfavorable view of Mitt Romney
than a favorable one. On average, Romney’s favorable rating across these states is 36%
favorable and 43% unfavorable.
- Mitt Romney’s numbers are particularly poor with Independent voters – among whom he has a 12-point net negative favorable rating (30% favorable/42% unfavorable).
- While Romney’s ratings are net negative in all five states, he has the highest unfavorable rating in Ohio (46%) – a state considered by many the key to the 2012 election.
In all five of these swing states, President Obama leads Mitt Romney in a head-to-head
matchup. On average, President Obama leads his Republican challenger by a 48% to 42%
margin. Among Independents, that margin is seven points (44% to 37%).
President Obama is seen as the candidate best served to meet the needs of the middle
class. By a 19-point margin, voters in these swing states see President Obama as the best
candidate to “stand up for the interests of the middle class” (50% say Obama vs. 31% who say
- Obama also leads Romney by significant margins among a wide array of other personal traits from being the candidate “who can relate to the problems and concerns of people like you” (46% Obama vs. 34% Romney) to being the candidate who “is honest and someone you can trust” (40% Obama vs. 32% Romney).
Priorities USA’s recent ad campaign on Romney’s record as CEO of Bain Capital had a
clear negative impact on perceptions of Romney across a variety of metrics. Over the
last two months, Priorities USA has run advertising in 11 media markets across the five states
mentioned in this memo. To analyze the effectiveness of this campaign, we ran an analysis of
the markets where Priorities USA ran ads (the “Priorities markets”) versus the markets where
they did not ran ads (the “non-Priorities markets”). This made for an effective experiment as
the two groups of markets are attitudinally very similar. For example, in the 2008 campaign,
President Obama beat John McCain by a 53% to 47% margin in both the “Priorities markets”
and “the non-Priorities markets.” Additionally, our polling showed the political affiliations of
these two market groups as nearly identical (for example, 41% of voters in both market groups
self-identify as Republican or Republican-leading). But an analysis of these two market
groups shows clear differences in attitudes across a wide spectrum of metrics relating to the
- In the “Priorities markets”, President Obama leads Mitt Romney by eight points (49% to 41%). In the “non-Priorities markets”, Obama leads Romney by three points (46% to 43%).
- In the “Priorities markets”, Mitt Romney’s unfavorable rating is net negative by nine points (35% favorable/44% unfavorable). In the “non-Priorities markets,” Romney’s unfavorable rating is net negative by five points (37%/42%).
- In the “Priorities markets”, 40% of voters say Mitt Romney’s record as Bain CEO make them less likely to vote for him. In the “non-Priorities markets” 34% of voters say that.
- In the “Priorities markets”, President Obama has an 11-point advantage on being the candidate that “is honest and someone you can trust”. In the “non-Priorities markets”, Obama holds a 5-point lead.