Americans think private equity is profiteering. But that hasn’t necessarily hurt Romney.
Mitt Romney’s campaign has put private equity under major scrutiny. And despite the industry’s new PR makeover, Americans still don’t like what they see. A new Bloomberg national poll finds that more than half of Americans think that private equity practices are “mostly bad for the economy,” with only 27 percent saying their practices are good. What’s more, there’s an overwhelming distaste for the carried-interest tax break that allows hedge funds and private equity partnership to pay a rate that’s lower than 15 percent, with 68 percent saying it’s “unreasonable,” with just 17 percent saying it’s reasonable.
It’s unclear, however, how much Romney’s time at Bain Capital has hurt him during the Republican primary. Republicans generally view his experience in private equity as an asset rather than a liability, according to the same Bloomberg poll: 64 percent of Republican (or GOP-leaning) voters believe that his time in private equity has made him “better prepared than other Republican candidates to create jobs,” with just a quarter of GOP voters believing the opposite. Meanwhile, Bain has continued to be on the defensive about its record, while keeping an arm’s length from the actual campaign.