President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has come under fire for its attacks on Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital—with several Democrats, including Bill Clinton and Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, suggesting Obama's focus on private equity companies could backfire.
But if a new poll of voters in key swing states is any judge, the Obama campaign is unlikely to drop its Bain strategy anytime soon.
A new Purple Strategies poll found that a plurality of voters in 12 key battleground states—Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin—are skeptical of Romney's argument that private equity companies create jobs. Among those polled, 47 percent say "private equity hurts workers," compared to 38 percent who say it "helps" the economy.
In Ohio, the numbers were starkest: 49 percent of those surveyed said private equity companies put profits over workers, compared to 33 percent who said private equity "helps" the economy. Eighteen percent said they were "not sure."
In Florida, the gap wasn't as big, but it still favored Obama: 47 percent of those polled said private equity hurts workers, compared to 40 percent who said it helps the economy.
Meanwhile, voters in two other key swing states—Colorado and Virginia—were evenly split on their views of private equity. In Colorado, 44 percent said it hurts workers, compared to 43 percent who said it helps the economy. In Virginia, 44 percent said it helps the economy, compared to 42 percent who said it hurts workers.
(Results for other key states were not disclosed. The poll has a plus or minus 2.2 percent margin of error.)
The poll isn't a great sign for Romney, who has cited his work at Bain Capital as proof that he's helped to create jobs around the country.
In their analysis of the findings, the pollsters note that Obama's Bain strategy is a "classic wedge issue," consolidating Democrats and winning over a plurality of independent voters, 48 percent of whom say private equity hurts, compared to 38 percent who say it helps.
"While the overall results on this argument appear to bode well for the president, the electoral map dynamics may argue for a more subtle state-by-state strategy," the pollsters write.