Poll Shows Some Voters Want More on Romney Taxes, Bain Tenure

More than a third of U.S. voters want to know more about Mitt Romney’s tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital LLC and how much he paid in taxes, according to a poll released today.

The survey by the Pew Research Center also found that 41 percent of registered voters would like additional information about Romney’s one term as governor of Massachusetts, where he signed health-care legislation that helped serve as the prototype for the federal plan upheld last month by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fewer than one in five voters -- 16 percent -- said they wanted to know more about Romney’s religion. The presumed Republican presidential nominee is seeking to become the first Mormon to win the White House.

“There’s a big gap there in terms of what people want to hear about Romney’s background, with many more wanting to hear about his experience as governor and experience in the private sector,” said Carroll Doherty, associate director of the Pew Research Center.

President Barack Obama’s campaign has been attacking Romney’s decision to limit his tax disclosure to just two years -- the 2010 filing he released earlier this year and 2011 returns he says will be forthcoming when they are ready. Romney’s father, George, released 12 years of returns while running for president in 1968. Some Republicans have echoed the Democratic calls for Mitt Romney to release more of his returns.

In the Pew poll, 36 percent of voters said they wanted more information about Romney’s tax returns. This included 35 percent of independents surveyed, along with 56 percent of Democrats and 18 percent of Republicans.

Bain Issue

Obama and his campaign also have criticized Romney over Boston-based Bain, which he cofounded and led. The Democrats have spotlighted job layoffs and outsourcing by companies that dealt with Bain.

Romney, who cites his business background as the qualification that shows he can improve the economy as president, faced attacks on Bain during the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

During the primaries, a super-political action committee backing Republican rival Newt Gingrich released a 28-minute film that called Romney a “corporate raider” motivated by greed.

The Pew survey shows that 35 percent of voters wanted to know more about Romney’s record at Bain, including 37 percent of independents. Among Democrats, 42 percent wanted more information on this subject, while among Republicans the figure was 27 percent.

Governor’s Term

There was no partisan divide concerning Romney’s 2003-2007 gubernatorial term. The poll found 44 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of independents wanting more information.

Romney’s health-care law required Massachusetts residents to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, the same individual mandate at the center of the measure Obama championed. Romney has pledged to repeal the national law.

“When you ask voters about what they’re most interested in, it’s policy proposals and legislative background,” Doherty said. “This poll is consistent with that; Democrats, Republicans, independents all say they’d like to hear more about Romney’s record as governor.”

Overall, 69 percent of voters said they had enough information about Romney while 28 percent wanted more. For Obama, 90 percent said they knew enough about him while 8 percent said they wanted to learn more.

“Most voters at this stage have made up their minds and most voters think that they’ve learned about everything they need to know about the candidates,” Doherty said.

The survey of 798 registered voters taken July 19-22 had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points for its entire sample. For subsets of Democratic, Republican and independent voters, the margins of error ranged from 6.7 percentage points to 7.8 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net.

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