8 Questions

Dan Balz on topics that will shape the 2012 campaign in the final 100 days

Question 4: Does Romney's wealth and business record make him more or less electable?

You'll get more debate about this than almost anything else about the campaign, much of it colored by partisanship. Republicans think that, in the end, Romney's business resume is a plus and his wealth won't be held against him. Democrats think the combination could be decisive in keeping the president in office.

"Romney doesn't seem capable of feeling people's pain," said Democratic strategist Craig Varoga. "His work at Bain is a huge disability," added Steve Rosenthal, another Democratic strategist with longtime ties to the labor movement. Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, said the way Romney has dealt with his wealth "is a negative in terms of being in touch."

Republicans disagree. "It definitely makes him more electable," said Hogan Gidley, a GOP strategist. Steve Grubbs, an Iowa Republican strategist, said Romney's business background, "will be a benefit no matter how much the president's team tries to trash it."

Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, said that, on balance given the polarized electorate, "it will mainly reinforce the views of each party's base -- Republicans like it, Democrats don't."

Obama's campaign has pummeled Romney over his work at Bain Capital. The president's advisers are convinced the attacks are eroding Romney's image in the swing states. Romney advisers think dissatisfaction with the president and the economy will trump those attacks in the end.

But even a number of Republicans say Romney has to make a more effective case on behalf of his business record -- and show more empathy as a candidate -- to offset the Democrats' attacks.