Poll: Majority says Romney should release more tax returns

A majority of Americans believe Mitt Romney should release more of his tax returns, evidence that the Obama campaign's push for fuller disclosure from the Republican nominee could be gaining traction.

Of those surveyed in the USA Today poll released Thursday, 54 percent of all voters and 53 percent of independents say that Romney should release more than two years' worth of tax returns. Some three in 10 Republicans and three-quarters of Democrats agree that Romney should disclose more.

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At the same time, a plurality of voters — 47 percent — say tax returns are "largely irrelevant" when deciding who should be president. Conversely, 44 percent say it provides "legitimate information that helps voters make better decisions."


Voters are about evenly split when asked to predict whether additional years' worth of returns would contain damaging information for Romney. The Obama campaign has already mined the documents turned over by Romney to raise questions about offshore investments and bank accounts.

While 44 percent believe the returns would hurt Romney's campaign, 42 percent say that the release of returns would not likely reveal damaging new information. But 15 percent — largely Democrats — predicted the returns would include revelations that could show Romney is "unfit to be president."

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told the paper that he wasn't surprised by the results.

"When it comes to candidates for the highest office in the land, Americans expect the opportunity to look under the hood and kick the tires," LaBolt said. "It's no surprise that they believe Gov. Romney should hold himself to the same standard as nominees of both parties have for decades."

But the Romney campaign has said repeatedly in past weeks that it had no plans to release additional records. In an interview with the National Review earlier this week, Romney said he doesn't want to provide the Obama team more ammunition to launch political attacks.

"In the political environment that exists today, the opposition research of the Obama campaign is looking for anything they can use to distract from the failure of the president to reignite our economy," Romney said. "And I'm simply not enthusiastic about giving them hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort and lie about."