Update on Views of Romney and Wealth

Recently, Lynn Vavreck and I analyzed a January 7-10 YouGov poll and found:

So here is the problem that Romney confronts.  Americans perceive him as personally wealthy more than they do Obama.  They perceive him as caring more about the wealthy, but less about “people like me” and the middle class, than does Obama.  Moreover, Obama can “get away with” being perceived as personally wealthy or caring about the wealthy in ways that Romney cannot.  For Americans, Romney’s personal wealth is more intimately tied to the perception that he cares about the wealthy—and this in turn implies that he cares less for the middle class.

In a January 14-17 poll, we repeated the survey questions on which our first post was based:

How well do you think each the following describes Barack Obama/Mitt Romney: very well, somewhat well, not very well, or not well at all?

  • Personally wealthy
  • Cares about people like me
  • Cares about the poor
  • Cares about the middle class
  • Cares about the rich

I looked to see if there had been any movement in these items between the two polls.  Given the continued discussion of Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, for example, you might wonder whether people became less likely to believe that he “cares about the middle class.”

However, we did not observe any meaningful movement in these trends.  Opinions in these two polls were nearly identical, and certainly within the margin of error.

Given that even more news about Romney’s wealth has broken since this later poll was conducted—e.g., his 15% tax rate—we will likely repeat these items again in the near future.  So stay tuned.

In the meantime, a Washington Post poll does find more unfavorable attitudes toward Romney’s corporate career now vs. in December.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

John Sides

John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University.