PRINCETON, NJ -- Three-quarters of registered voters say the fact that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is worth more than $200 million makes no difference to their likelihood of voting for him. However, 20% of voters, mostly Democrats and independents, say Romney's wealth makes them less likely to vote for him, while 4% say it makes them more likely.
The Obama campaign has targeted Romney's wealth in recent weeks, stressing his net worth and how he earned it as head of Bain Capital, where he has invested it, and the fact that he has not released all of his tax returns from the last decade. Obama's campaign is apparently using Romney's wealth in its efforts to convince voters that Romney is not as well-equipped as Obama to understand the problems and needs of middle- and lower-class Americans. The Romney campaign has pushed back, stressing that voters are more interested in fixing the economy than in the candidates' personal financial situations.
Gallup's July 9-10 results show that most Americans say Romney's wealth does not matter. Those who say it does make a difference tilt five to one toward saying it makes them less likely, rather than more likely, to vote for him for president.
Most of the 37% of Democratic voters who say Romney's wealth is a negative are unlikely to vote for him to begin with. Gallup's latest demographic analysis shows that 89% of Democratic registered voters prefer Obama, compared with 6% supporting Romney.
Independents, on the other hand, are more in play in the election, breaking 42% for Obama and 42% for Romney in Gallup's latest three-week average. Their views on Romney's wealth mirror the national average, with 19% saying Romney's wealth makes them less likely to vote for him and 4% saying more likely. Republicans, perhaps not surprisingly, are slightly more likely to say Romney's wealth makes them more likely (8%) rather than less likely (4%) to vote for him -- but most say it makes no difference to them.
Voters' income makes a modest difference in their views on Romney's wealth: a slightly larger proportion of those making under $24,000 a year say his wealth makes them less likely to vote for him than is the case for those with higher incomes.
The Obama campaign is focusing on Romney's wealth in an attempt to position him as the candidate whose policies will benefit the wealthy and increase the gap between rich and poor -- juxtaposed against Obama's positioning as the candidate who will do more for the middle class. Most Americans claim Romney's wealth will not affect their vote, perhaps reflecting Gallup research showing that the majority of Americans believe the U.S. benefits from having a rich class and would themselves like to be rich. Still, enough Americans generally and independents specifically say Romney's wealth makes them less likely to vote for him that it could in theory make a difference at the margins in some key swing states.
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Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking survey July 9-10, 2012, with a random sample of 873 registered voters, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of registered voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.