Question of the Week RESULTS: Attacks on Bain a Black Eye for PE

Yeah, this could be ugly.

Readers of peHub fear that Mitt Romney’s presidential run will prove to deliver a black eye for the image of private equity. Nearly half of you — 46% — predicted that his probable nomination as the Republican nominee would mean a year of the industry getting slimed with political mud.

That said, three in 10 of our respondents said that despite the sturm und drang, the result would be neglible to the industry’s reputation.

The remaining 24% said that despite the coming furor, the net result will be positive in terms of industry PR. You optimists.

But in all, a diverse collection of viewpoints. We also fielded some thoughtful comments from our readers:

• I’d be pleasantly surprised if the candidates and the political media approached this topic with nuance during the primary season, but I think we need to wait and see how David Axelrod and Jim Messina play this one over the summer

• Retooling companies and making them lean, mean and technologically updated. “Idealist-Realist”

• 99% of the people who use his PE experience as “slime” have no idea what PE is. His campaign, at the very least, will help make the US population less ignorant in general.

• Expect lots of ignorance from the mainstream press and more demagoguery from Romney’s opponents. Obama’s attacks will be in overdrive, but ultimately voters won’t like the class warfare and Romney will win.

As for our last commenter, I would only note that the attacks, which already have begun, are coming from conservative Republicans, including Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. Andrew Sullivan, the conservative blogger at the Daily Beast, noted Thursday that the attacks seem to be having an effect:

Romney has already seen a drop in South Carolina. I suspect he’ll drop some more. And I suspect once the potency of this line of attack is absorbed by the GOP establishment, there will be some full, if concealed, panic.

Steve Bills is a senior editor at Buyouts Magazine. Any opinions expressed here are entirely his own. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Bills. Follow Buyouts tweets @Buyouts. For information on how to subscribe, contact Greg Winterton at greg.winterton@thomsonreuters.com.