President Obama'a attacks on Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital may have eroded Romney's standing with some voters but they haven't boosted Obama's own approval rating, and so the presidential race remains a dead heat.
A new series of polls shows that Romney has taken a hit because of Obama's relentless criticism that the former Massachusetts governor was only interested in making profits, not helping to create jobs or strengthen communities, while he ran the private-equity firm.
But Obama has at the same time failed to make an affirmative case for himself, especially because so many Americans don't believe he has improved the economy or lowered unemployment.
The latest Gallup-USA Today Poll finds that the economy is much more important to voters than Romney's time at Bain, and that many voters are willing to make a leap of faith to Romney as a better alternative than Obama, at least for now. The poll finds that despite Democratic attacks, 63 per cent of voters say Romney's background in business, including his experience at Bain, would cause him to make "good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation's economic problems over the next four years." Only 29 per cent said Romney's business background would cause him to make bad economic decisions.
Democratic strategists say the Bain attacks will hurt Romney over the long run. But recent polls indicate that overall voter optimism about the economy is declining, and this is hurting Obama's re-election prospects.
A new poll for The Hill newspaper in Washington, D. C. finds that more people are now blaming Obama for the bad economy than former President George W. Bush. About 34 per cent say Obama is the most to blame, followed by 23 per cent who say Congress, 20 per cent who say Wall Street, and 18 per cent who blame Bush. The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Research.
This finding is significant because Obama has consistently blamed Bush for policies that put the economy in a ditch and argued that he needs a second term to fix things. If voters don't buy that argument, Obama will have real trouble in the November election.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for u.s.news.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.