A new Gallup Poll finds that more Americans by a wide margin think middle class earners will be in better shape after four years of Barack Obama than four years of Romney — a poll that underscores Romney’s task when he participates in a 90 minute debate Monday night:
More Americans believe middle-income earners would be better off in four years if President Barack Obama is re-elected than if Mitt Romney wins, by 53% to 43%. The public also says lower-income Americans would be better off under an Obama presidency, while, by an even larger margin, they say upper-income Americans would do better under Romney.
Other groups that Americans believe stand to do well under Obama are racial and ethnic minorities, women, young adults, and senior citizens. Anywhere from 53% to 67% of Americans name Obama as better for these groups, compared with fewer than half picking Romney.
In addition to upper-income Americans, respondents to the Sept. 24-27 USA Today/Gallup poll believe that investors and men would fare better under a Romney presidency. Americans are evenly divided as to which of the two candidates would be better for small-business owners.
As would be expected, these views are highly partisan — with the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats naming their own party’s candidate as better for most groups. The only exceptions are that two-thirds of Democrats believe upper-income Americans would be better off under Romney — indicating that they don’t consider this a positive credential. Also, Democrats are evenly divided between naming Obama (46%) and Romney (48%) as better for investors.
And independents? No surprises here:
Independents’ views, important given their role as swing voters in what could be a close election, closely match those of the public at large.
Part of what Gallup says it the bottom line:
Americans overwhelmingly believe a continuation of the Obama presidency would be more helpful to racial and ethnic minorities, lower-income Americans, and women than would a Romney presidency. On the other hand, they perceive that upper-income Americans and investors would be better off if Romney wins. These images of the two candidates generally fit the traditional profile of the Democratic and Republican parties. Also, the view that a Romney presidency would disproportionately favor the rich and investors has been a persistent theme in the Obama campaign’s focus on Romney, underscoring concerns highlighted earlier by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Still, it is not clear whether these strong special-interest-oriented associations are more helpful or harmful to either candidate. For example, some may consider Romney’s potential aid to investors as undesirable, while others could see it as a positive — believing that what is good for investors is in turn good for the overall economy. Similarly, the view that Obama would help lower-income Americans is likely considered positive by many, but could be interpreted as more negative by those who are leery of increased government involvement in redistribution of income.
But it is one more indication that Mitt Romney has some image repair to do — which he will seek to do Wednesday night.