Opinion Brief

Obama's growing swing-state lead: Proof his Bain attacks work?

Americans are inching toward President Obama in several key battlegrounds, arguably justifying the president's assault on Mitt Romney as a job-killing outsourcer

President Obama is extending his lead over Mitt Romney in several key swing states, according to two new polls. Surveys from Quinnipiac, for instance, show the president up four points in Florida, six in Pennsylvania, and nine in Ohio. One possible explanation for the growing margins: Romney's favorability rating has dipped sharply. A month ago, 36 percent of respondents polled by NBC and The Wall Street Journal had a favorable opinion of the GOP candidate, the same percentage that rated him unfavorably. Now, only 30 percent rate Romney positively, while 41 percent view him negatively. That shift comes in the wake of a controversial advertising push by the Obama campaign, which has hammered Romney as a job killer and outsourcer during his years running private equity firm Bain Capital. Are Obama's Bain attacks working?

Yes. Bain is Obama's ticket to re-election: "Bain advertising is like a magic potion," says Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog. "You talk about Bain and Romney's numbers instantly go down." Obama must tune out wobbly Democrats, like Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who are worried that Obama's Bain assault will offend business types. These polls confirm that "Bain is toxic," and Obama will win if he keeps talking about it.
"Mitt Romney has a glass jaw — it's called Bain"

No. These polls don't prove anything: Obama's Bain attacks "largely fall flat," says Kenneth Silber at AdvisorOne. A couple of polls never tell the full story. Remember, Mitt's poll numbers rose in late May while Obama was making a big push to brand the Bain-era Romney as a job killer. If anything, Obama's Bain attacks might even be working to "Romney's benefit by highlighting his business experience and spurring counterclaims that President Obama is anti-business."
"What to expect"

Romney's problems are bigger than Bain: Mitt's real problem is that he's just generally "less well-liked" than Obama, says James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. People don't want to hang out with him, and — major red flag — one-fifth of the country is "uncomfortable" with his Mormonism. That's causing Romney to lose ground even though 61 percent of Americans say the country is heading in the wrong direction. He should be worried.
"61 percent say country headed in wrong direction, yet Obama leads Romney"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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