Attacks on Romney Missing Mark

January 21, 2012, 8:23 PM GMT+0

Have the attacks on Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital had any effect on voters? Have they even gotten through to voters? In a new poll of likely South Carolina Republican primary voters released on January 20th by YouGov, nearly half (48%) of the respondents said they weren’t sure whether they approved or disapproved of Romney’s time at Bain. In the face of all the advertising and free media directed at painting Romney as a “vulture capitalist” the fact that half of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina could not form an opinion on this question is striking.

Even more interesting, it is the young (18-29 year olds) and the less-well off (those earning less than $40K a year in family income) who are most uncertain about Romney’s time at Bain. Sixty-four percent of young people and 60% of the low-income households were too uncertain to give an opinion.

Even if the exact information about Romney’s time at Bain is not penetrating the electorate in South Carolina, perhaps the “gist” of the attack is getting through. YouGov asked South Carolina Republicans whether they thought Romney was paying his fair share of federal income taxes --- a common coda to the Bain Capital tune.

More than half of Republicans in South Carolina answered in the affirmative --- meaning they think Romney is paying his fair share in federal income taxes. Still, roughly a third were too unsure to give an opinion. There were no segments of the electorate in which Romney was thought to be getting away with a good deal on his federal taxes (not age, gender, or income).

Despite the focus that has been placed on the South Carolina primary, the intense amount of advertising in the race, the loads of free-media dedicated to Romney’s finances, and the face that the election is upon us, it still seems that a third to a half of South Carolina Republican voters are not tuned in to the attacks on Romney for being a wealthy banker who is adding to the problems of income equality, not helping to solve them.

The YouGov survey was a sample of 339 likely South Carolina Republican Primary voters screened from a sample of 759 registered voters. It was in the field January 18-20, 2012. Margin of error estimated at +/- 6.1%.