Will the strategy of highlighting Mitt Romney’s track record at Bain Capital do more to damage the Republican nominee, or Barack Obama?  A poll released yesterday by Rasmussen suggests that it might do more damage to Obama’s re-election efforts than it will to his challenger.  Only 33% of a sample of 1,000 likely voters say that Romney’s record at Bain was a reason to vote against him, while 44% believe it boosts his candidacy:

Democrats have begun criticizing Mitt Romney’s business record, but a plurality of voters view the Republican’s business past as a positive.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 44% of Likely U.S. Voters believe that Romney’s track record in business is primarily a reason to vote for him. Thirty-three percent (33%) see his business career as chiefly a reason to vote against him. Twenty-two percent (22%) are undecided.

It may also tend to boost Romney’s credibility on the overall economy while pointing to Obama’s deficiencies:

Fifty-five percent (55%) voters believe venture capital companies are better at creating jobs than government programs are.  Only 26% see government programs as better job creators. Nineteen percent (19%) are not sure. That’s essentially unchanged from January.

For those keeping score on sampling techniques, the D/R/I on this survey was 34/35/31, nearly identical to the 2010 midterm exit poll split of 35/35/30.  That might be slightly optimistic for Republicans; in a national election with a Democratic incumbent at the top of the ticket, it’s likely Republicans will have to work hard on GOTV efforts to match Democratic turnout.  It is, however, a defensible model for predictive purposes, and as we’ll see, the margins on the questions are wide enough to make this very reliable.

The internals show the trap that Team Obama is setting for itself.  The 33% who buy their argument comes in slightly under the level of Democrats in the sample.  It’s an argument that works primarily to bolster the base, not attract independents.  Independents on this question split almost 2-1, 48/25, towards Romney’s business record being a reason to vote for him rather than against him.  Emphasizing Romney’s business experience as a venture capitalist plays even more toward Romney among unaffiliated voters, 57% of whom see that experience as better at job creation than managing government programs, which only 23% of independents choose.

In fact, on that latter question, venture capital wins majorities or pluralities in nearly every demographic category, including some key Democratic constituencies.  Women overwhelmingly favor venture capital over government programs, 51/26.  Younger voters go nearly 2-1 for venture capital, 48/27.  With the exception of those making under $20K per year, wide majorities of all income categories favor venture capital.  The only demos that break the other direction do so weakly: Democrats (27/43), black voters (21/42), liberals (24/50), under $20K (29/43), and unsurprisingly the political class (34/47).  Even union households prefer venture capital by a wide margin, 52/25.

If I were consulting for Team Obama, I think I’d offer them Admiral Ackbar’s advice:

It’s one they’re springing on themselves.