Try as it might, the private equity industry hasn't won the hearts and minds of average Americans.
More than half of Americans say they have a negative view of private equity, according to a new poll from Bloomberg News. Fifty-two percent of Americans surveyed say that private equity practices which, according to the poll questionnaire, "include investing money to take over companies with a plan to sell them later" are "mostly bad" for the U.S. economy, Bloomberg says.
An even larger share of respondents -- 68 percent -- said they think it's unreasonable that hedge fund managers and private equity partners hand over only 15 percent of their profits from carried interest to the government, versus the 35 percent that top earners pay in income taxes.
Still, among those who identified as Republican (or Republican-leaning), primary contender Mitt Romney's background in private equity is not viewed negatively. Sixty-four percent of Republicans polled said they think Mitt Romney's experience as an executive in that industry better prepares him to create jobs than any of the other Republican candidates.
The poll's findings come as the private equity industry is engaging in a broad push to improve its image among both the general public and in Washington, amidst fears that negative impressions of the business could lead to new regulations.
The industry might have reason to be nervous. Last month, the Obama administration proposed increasing the federal tax on profits from hedge fund and private equity deals -- known as carried interest -- from fifteen percent to 35 percent. Less than two weeks before that, the SEC had reportedly launched an "informal inquiry," into a number of industry firms by sending them letters requesting information on how they value the companies they invest in.