Gallup: Despite Bain attacks, Romney more trusted than Obama on the economy

posted at 4:41 pm on July 23, 2012 by Allahpundit

The man’s nothing if not consistent. He campaigns as he governs, spending astounding sums to little effect.

Despite concerted Democratic attacks on his business record, Republican challenger Mitt Romney scores a significant advantage over President Obama when it comes to managing the economy, reducing the federal budget deficit and creating jobs, a national USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

By more than 2-1, 63%-29%, those surveyed say Romney’s background in business, including his tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation’s economic problems over the next four years…

The Democratic attacks on Romney seem to have had little effect on voters’ assessments of him. In February, 53% said the former Massachusetts governor had the personality and leadership qualities a president should have; now 54% do. Then, 42% said they agreed with Romney on the issues that mattered most to them; now 45% do.

Also significant against the backdrop of Bain demagoguery: 61 percent say that government’s trying to do too many things that should be left to the private sector, the highest number since Gallup began tracking that in the early 90s. Don’t read too much into that — no one in the GOP’s going to make a run at privatizing Social Security this year — but it’s significant mainly as a temperature check of the electorate. O’s spent weeks scaremongering about Romney’s supposedly rapacious entrepreneurial record in hopes of steering opinion his way on the public/private choice to come in November. How’s that working out?

Earlier this morning, before the Gallup poll was released, Sean Trende ran the numbers and wondered what exactly Obama had achieved with his month-long anti-Bain ad binge:

[W]here is the evidence that anything has changed, outside of the media narrative? PrioritiesUSA, the Obama campaign’s super PAC, suggests this as the key finding: “37% of voters say that Romney’s business experience at Bain Capital make them LESS likely to vote for him. Just 27% say it makes them MORE likely to vote for him.”

But another way of reporting this information would be to say that, after a seven- to eight-figure ad blitz aimed at convincing voters that Romney is a cross between the buffoonish Thurston Howell III and the rapacious Gordon Gekko, 63 percent of voters either find Romney’s business experience irrelevant or say it makes them more likely to vote for him. (Of course, it also matters how those 37 percent are distributed. If the bulk of those who find Romney’s business experience unpalatable are Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents, then this isn’t much of a problem for the Republican’s campaign.)

The polls overall have barely budged, but there has been some dramatic movement in one key metric flagged by Trende:

That trend isn’t replicated in the new Gallup numbers — apparently, Obama leads Romney in likability by a two-to-one margin (the hard data isn’t available yet) — but there’s no obvious explanation to me for why O’s favorables should have tanked so dramatically besides a backlash to his negativity. Last month’s jobs numbers were bad, but the public’s been stoic about poor jobs reports thus far. Could be that swing voters are finally realizing that The One’s “hope and change” blather in 2008 was simply an opportunistic campaign strategy aimed at capitalizing on Bush fatigue, not some deeply felt outlook on politics. “Hope” won’t beat Romney after three years of grinding unemployment, so he and Ax and Plouffe are only too happy to toss it and reach for the two-by-four instead. Go figure that some pro-O independents who bought the hype four years ago might feel disillusioned.

Exit question: Did Obama hit Romney on Bain too soon? There are, evidently, fewer undecideds this year than there have been in the previous three elections, a quirk that Jazz speculated about yesterday. I think he’s onto something about the accelerating flow of information (a theory that’ll be familiar to Kaus fans), but I’m not sure which way it cuts. If, thanks to the ubiquity of political news and platforms on which to access it, you’ve got a better-informed and earlier-deciding electorate overall, does that mean you should attack earlier or later? My gut is that it’s dumb to slam your opponent during the summer doldrums if more people than usual have already made up their minds and only the hardcore apathetic undecideds, who are probably tuned out until fall, are left. But then, why not try to leverage the faster flow of info by getting the attention of those apathetics as soon as possible? Make a big stink about Bain now and hope they pay attention (a little). And yet, there’s been no poll movement. How come? Are the apathetics still asleep or just really unimpressed with the Bain nonsense?

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Bmore on July 23, 2012 at 7:36 PM

I put a comment with links but its not showing up…

nathor on July 23, 2012 at 7:38 PM

Staples is an example of the kind of box store chain that a certain percentage of people resent, because they supposedly put Mom & Pop stationary stores out of business. On the other hand, you’ve got Obama saying that Mom & Pop don’t really work any harder and aren’t any smarter than anyone else, and the government deserves at least half, if not more, of the credit for their success.

Obama’s tone deaf “you didn’t build that” comment has made it impossible for him to go after Romney in a way that pits big business against small business. Instead, by attacking Bain as well as belittling small business owners, he comes across as hostile to the private sector as a whole.

ardenenoch on July 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

just google news the term libor

nathor on July 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

ames Rickards is a hedge fund manager in New York City and the author of “Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis” from Portfolio/Penguin. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesGRickards.

Investors have by now heard of the LIBOR scandal engulfing the banking industry. LIBOR stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate. To some it may be just the latest entry on a list of bank frauds and blunders in recent years, from mortgage scams to MF Global and the London Whale.

In fact, this may be the mother of all scandals—the one that finally leads to criminal charges and the insolvency of major banks. The fraud is breathtakingly easy to understand once past a small amount of jargon. Indeed, the simplicity of the fraud is the greatest threat to the perpetrators because here at last is a fraud that is easy for juries to understand and for prosecutors to prove.

LIBOR is the interest rate at which top-tier banks in London offer to lend to each other on an unsecured basis. The loans are usually short term, typically a day, a week, or several months. Historically the banks in the LIBOR market were among the strongest credits in the world and this type of lending was considered extremely low risk. As a result, LIBOR was among the lowest interest rates available in the market. Other interest rates including corporate loans were benchmarked to LIBOR and expressed as a spread, such as LIBOR plus 1 percent. LIBOR became the base rate used in calculating a vast number of other products and transactions.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

LIBOR is set by a committee of banks sending their estimates of the rate at which they could borrow to a trade association. The banks on the committee are among the largest in the world including J.P. Morgan, Citibank, and Bank of America. The trade association would discard the highest and lowest rates and average the rest to arrive at the official LIBOR. This would then be published on financial news services. Payments due under LIBOR transactions would be calculated using that published rate.

We now know that some of the banks on the committee lied about the rates for a period of six years from 2005 to 2010, perhaps longer. The lies had two purposes. The first was to make money for the bank by lowering what it had to pay on LIBOR-based contracts. This is a kind of direct theft from customers. The second reason involved hiding the fact that some banks were being asked to pay high rates during the Panic of 2008. This is considered a sign of distress. By lowering the reported rate, the banks were made to appear healthier than they were and committed a fraud on the market as a whole.

We also know that regulators acted as aiders and abettors of the fraud by ignoring clear signs, including admissions by the banks themselves, that the rates were rigged. Regulators passed vague proposals back and forth about the need to improve practices instead of calling law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute the crimes.

[See an opinion slide show of 10 wasteful stimulus projects.]

One might expect that the scandal will follow the familiar pattern of bogus bank contrition, slaps on the wrist, large but not life-threatening fines, and pious promises not to do it again soon to be ignored. In short, it’s just another scandal.

But this time it’s different and here’s why: The sheer volume of contracts based on LIBOR defies the imagination. Estimates vary, but $500 trillion seems reasonable. Even if the banks lied by as little as one-tenth of 1 percent, that percentage applied to $500 trillion multiplied by the six years of the fraud comes to $3 trillion stolen from customers. Cutting that amount in half to allow for the fact that some customers benefited from the fraud while others lost still gives implied damages of $1.5 trillion, greater than the combined capital of all of the too-big-too-fail banks in the United States. Taken to the full extent of the law, these damages are enough to render a large segment of the global banking system insolvent. These damages will be pursued not by regulators, but in private lawsuits by class action lawyers.

Bank defendants in cases like this typically ask a judge to dismiss the case because the claims are too vague. However, the facts in this case have already been made plain by Barclays, which is the one large bank to settle its case with the regulators. Once the plaintiffs get past the motion to dismiss, they begin discovery, which gives the class action lawyers access to internal E-mails, tape recordings, depositions, and other books and records of the perpetrator banks. Based on small glimpses of the doings at Barclays, the communications of the other major bank LIBOR trading desks could be shocking.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Does the J.P. Morgan Loss Prove the Need for Tougher Bank Regulations?]

This kind of private legal process takes years to play out. In the meantime, some arrests and criminal charges by the government seem likely. In the end, legislatures may have to intervene to limit total damages to avoid the destruction of the too-big-too-fail banks. In this sense, the LIBOR litigation may come to resemble the tobacco litigation where the big tobacco companies embraced a government-backed deal with damages of over $200 billion to avoid eventual bankruptcy in the face of state and private lawsuits.

Of course, the insolvency of a major bank in the face of LIBOR rate rigging charges cannot be ruled out. In that case, good riddance. The big banks have perpetrated a crime wave longer than that of Bonnie and Clyde. If it has taken the law this long to catch up with them, it’s better late than never.

nathor on July 23, 2012 at 7:48 PM

Oops. Someone told me that Allahpundit was gone for good. I hope he didn’t read any of those comments I made about him while he was gone.

jaime on July 23, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Welcome back, AP. Hope you are “tanned, rested and ready”. ;)

Exit question: Did Obama hit Romney on Bain too soon? Make a big stink about Bain now and hope they pay attention (a little). And yet, there’s been no poll movement. How come? Are the apathetics still asleep or just really unimpressed with the Bain nonsense?

On the bright side, the Bain attack was NEVER going to work given the SCOAMF’s record. All the chaff that has been thrown into the air regarding Bain was never going to conceal the 10,000 pounds of elephant poo dumped on the American people by this administration.

On the brighter side, the Bain attackes were NEVER targeted at the independent/undecided voters. The Bain attacks were targeted at the perenially liberal base whoare deluded enough to believe the lies. Trust me on this … I see their Facebook posts and just shake my head at their idiocy.

On the brightest side, the current conventional wisdom about the amount of the “decided electorate” is NEVER going to reflect reality … because the question is NOT who has made up their minds. The question is WHO shows up to VOTE.

On have been saying this on here for months, the SCOAMF campaign is in deep doo doo with regards to voter turnout. The $ 2.6 million spent in June was used to try to figure out how they can get their base out in enough force to give them ANY hope.

As things are shaping up NOW, the Democrats have to be hitting their knees praying Obambi decides to do the LBJ thing and bow out of the race before the convention.

Otherwise, November is shaping up to be an Extinction Level Event for the Democratic party.

PolAgnostic on July 23, 2012 at 7:57 PM


Bmore on July 23, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Show Off.

Tim_CA on July 23, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Welcome back AP.

antisocial on July 23, 2012 at 9:51 PM

AP is back! Yeah!

southernms on July 23, 2012 at 11:38 PM

Welcome back, AP.

Trent1289 on July 23, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Mega-dittos! …lol

rightConcept on July 24, 2012 at 12:24 AM