Bain is no longer Romney’s bane

September 11, 2012

Mitt Romney might have lost a little ground on the campaign trail.

But don't blame Bain Capital.

New Washington Post-ABC News polling shows that, whatever price the Republican presidential nominee might have paid for his work in venture capital, the issue now cuts pretty evenly in swing states.

In July, twice as many voters (32 percent) said Romney's position at Bain was a major reason to oppose him as said it was a major reason to support him (16 percent). Those numbers are now basically a wash, with 28 percent viewing Bain as a major negative and 27 percent viewing it as a major positive.

Democrats went after Bain hard early on, but they found that some in their party (read: Cory Booker) were uncomfortable with what they saw as an attack on free enterprise.

Romney's record at the company remains an issue on the campaign trail, with Democrats bringing it up during several speeches at their convention last week. And a majority of Americans still say it's a major factor in picking a candidate. But among that majority, basically the same number of respondents say it makes Romney more attractive as say it is a strike against him.

So, would that be a victory for Republicans or Democrats?

The fact is that Republicans have recovered somewhat from the Bain-bashing through their efforts to change the message, and this poll shows that their progress is significant.

But Romney's business background is supposed to be his major asset in this campaign. And if just as many people see it as a liability as see it as an asset, then Democrats have had some success in blunting a major reason touted for electing Romney. (The new poll also shows more Americans believe Romney did more to cut jobs -- 45 percent -- than create jobs -- 38 percent -- while in the private sector.)

Clearly, his past at Bain is still hurting Romney among a significant number of voters.

Either way, the Bain issue appears to have fallen victim to this election campaign's notably polarized environment. Those who are apt to support Romney probably see Bain as a plus, while those who oppose him see it as a minus.

In the middle are the very few undecided voters who probably also haven't decided whether Romney's business career is a plus or a minus.

Their decision will have a big impact on the final result this November.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Sean Sullivan · September 11, 2012