A few months ago I argued that one reason Republicans handled the contraception issue so incompetently was that public opinion on premarital sex was strongly divided by age and party: older Republicans, and nobody else, overwhelmingly regard sex outside marriage as inherently wrong.

Mitt Romney has a similar problem regarding Bain. According to a Gallup survey from a few weeks ago, only 21 percent of Americans feel “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in business. (Here’s Gallup’s discussion with some historical averages; here’s a bar graph. And by the way, I’m glad that Gallup combines the results for “a great deal” and “quite a lot” since I don’t see a clear difference between the two.) But big business is the institution whose levels of trust show the greatest partisan differences. Fully 39 percent of Republicans proclaim the highest level of trust, but only 11 percent of Democrats—and, very important, only 15 percent of independents.

I wish I had a breakdown by income (consider this a bleg), but I’d be astonished not to see stark differences there as well—as well as by region; from anecdote and experience I suspect a pro-corporate mentality is much more common in the South than everywhere else.

In other words, Republicans—especially rich Sun Belt Republicans—generally think that big business is doing fine by America and can be counted on to continue to do fine. They’re astonished that anybody would call fairly standard corporate practices “the problem” rather than the solution. And they would probably hit back hard against Romney’s campaign if he tried to distance himself from those practices (not that he could easily do so!). But in feeling this way they are badly, perhaps fatally, out of touch.

By the way, are there issues on which partisan gaps place independents closer to Republicans than to Democrats? Yes. More on those in a later post.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

Andrew Sabl

Andrew Sabl is a Visiting Professor in the Program on Ethics, Politics, and Economics and in Political Science at Yale University.