Three recent polls show that the presidential race is neck-and-neck, despite the Obama campaign's merciless attacks on Mitt Romney's tenure at private equity firm Bain Capital. These are the first national polls to be released since The Boston Globe reported that Mitt Romney had remained at Bain for three years longer than he had claimed, which renewed focus on Romney's alleged ties to outsourcing and mass layoffs, and his unwillingness to release more than two years of tax returns. (Previous polls suggesting a boost from the Bain attacks came before the Globe report.) A New York Times/CBS poll even shows that Romney is leading the race by two percentage points, and that a record-low 39 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of the economy. Are the polls proof that the Bain attacks aren't working?
Yes. Voters are worried about the economy, not Bain: Everything the media is "obsessing over — Bain outsourcing, Mitt Romney's departure from Bain, and Romney's tax returns — is irrelevant to voters," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. Obama "may be running against Romney, but the economy is beating him down." There is even evidence that the Bain attacks are hurting Obama, with more people holding an unfavorable view of him.
"Polling insight: Ignore pundits, follow the economy"
So this should help Romney pivot back to the economy: The economy is still "defining this contest for voters across the country," and "that's not good for Team Obama," say Michael Falcone and Amy Walter at ABC News. The Obama campaign had hoped to keep the focus on Romney's record at Bain and his tax returns, and the media had obliged with weeks of bad press for the former governor from Massachusetts. But these polls "may be the thing that helps Romney finally 'turn the page' in the race, back to the economy."
"Did Mitt Romney get his game changer?"
Hold on. It's still too early to tell: It's a "little premature" to say that Romney has "successfully weathered the attacks on Bain," says Jamelle Bouie at The Washington Post. It's possible that the ads will "have the most effect after the conventions [in September], as undecided voters begin to make a choice, and draw on overall impressions built up over months." The point is to build the impression that Romney is a greedy capitalist, which will make it easier to convince voters that "he really would cut Medicare and government programs that assist poor and middle class Americans while also cutting taxes for the rich."
"Are Bain attacks a success, or a flop? Still too early to say."