While Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney struggles to overcome President Barack Obama’s lead in most polls, there’s one group that is increasingly confident he will win — financial advisers.
A survey released earlier this week by investment management outsourcing firm SEI shows that 52% of advisers believe Mr. Romney will take the White House. That’s a stark contrast from a similar poll in May, when 63% said that Mr. Obama would win.
The latest survey involved 130 advisers who took an online poll Sept. 13-19. Some of them would have responded after news broke on Sept. 17 about a video showing Mr. Romney at a fundraising event earlier in the year disparaging Mr. Obama’s supporters as people who are “dependent on government” and “believe they are victims.”
The video was another setback for Mr. Romney’s campaign, which has had trouble gaining traction against Mr. Obama despite a sluggish economy and an unemployment rate — more than 8% — that is higher than the rate at which any president has been re-elected.
“The past week was another week of unforced errors and missed opportunities for the Romney campaign as the clock in 2012 is starting to tick down,” Brian Gardner, senior vice president of Washington research at Keefe Bruyette & Woods, said in a report released Friday. “National polls continue to show President Obama with a lead over Gov. Romney. What is more daunting for the Romney campaign than national polls is the situation in the battleground states.”
Mr. Gardner’s report notes that Mr. Obama leads Mr. Romney in five major national polls. He also maintains an advantage — ranging from two to six points — in swing states such as Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Colorado.
But it looks as if financial advisers are sticking with Mr. Romney, according to the SEI poll. They believe Mr. Obama’s management of the economy has been poor and the pace of the recovery feeble, according to Jerry Lezynski, SEI director of marketing.
“They look at the lackluster economy and an unemployment rate over 8% with little prospects of improving, and many think those factors will ultimately be too much of a hurdle for President Obama to overcome in November,” Mr. Lezynski wrote in an e-mailed statement. “But let’s not forget that there are still nearly half who think Obama will win, whether they want him to or not.”
What advisers like in Mr. Romney is his past experience in management and business — running the Olympics, heading the private-equity firm Bain Capital and serving as governor of Massachusetts.
“It seems they think that his track record shows he will run the government like a business, and a successful one at that,” Mr. Lezynski said.
Advisers are wary of the so-called fiscal cliff – the expiration of Bush tax cuts and the implementation of more than $1 trillion automatic spending cuts that will occur on Jan. 1 if Congress fails to act.
In the survey, 20% indicated that they “don’t have confidence that either candidate will be able to [show the leadership needed to] avoid the fiscal cliff,” SEI said in a statement.