According to pundits, the recent criticism of Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital by the Obama Campaign is serious cause for concern for the Romney camp. However, Romney actually received more criticism about Bain early in the GOP Primaries than he is getting now.

On Monday July 16, David A. Graham of The Atlantic posted a Google Trends chart (via Politico’s Alexander Burns, via ABC’s Emily Friedman) showing a steep rise in the number of Google searches for “Bain Capital”. Graham says “the attacks are getting Americans’ attention” and “it’s the rapid growth that should be scary for the Romney campaign.”

Chart shows Google Search Trends of the words “bain capital” over time, via Google.

Chart shows Google Search Trends of the words “bain capital” over time, via Google.

Chart shows distribution of statements with sentiment in articles mentioning “bain”.  Time frame is June 19 – July 16.

Chart shows distribution of statements with sentiment in articles mentioning “bain”. Time frame is June 19 – July 16.

Indeed, 4thEstate data shows that sentiment toward Romney is nearly 75% negative in content mentioning “Bain” since June 19. The Obama campaign appears to have drawn blood.

However, a trending chart of sentiment toward Romney in content mentioning “Bain” shows that the recent coverage is dwarfed by the attacks on Romney’s business record by his GOP rivals in January. The first round of attacks by the Obama campaign beginning in May were also covered more heavily than the recent flurry of jabs.

Chart shows number of statements negative and positive to Mitt Romney in articles mentioning “Bain”. Time frame is Oct 6 – July 16.

Chart shows number of statements negative and positive to Mitt Romney in articles mentioning “Bain”. Time frame is Oct 6 – July 16.

In fact, extending a Google Trends chart out to the last year shows a very similar pattern: A large spike in January, followed by a secondary rise in May, and then the recent coverage of Romney and Bain. The Obama campaign may have wounded Romney with its recent punches, but the effect has been overstated by Graham, Burns, Friedman, and other pundits eager to see a “game changing” event in what is sure to be a long, closely fought campaign.

Chart shows Google Search Trends of the words “bain capital” over time, via Google.

Chart shows Google Search Trends of the words “bain capital” over time, via Google.