Since last week's release of a series of YouTube videos showing remarks by GOP nominee Mitt Romney behind closed doors at a spring fundraiser, the mainstream media's favorite meme (as well as the narrative advanced by the Obama campaign) has been the accusation that former Governor Romney is out of touch with the middle class in America.
If that's true, the middle class apparently hasn't noticed. A recent poll conducted jointly by George Washington University and Politico reveals that middle class families not only don't view Romney as an enemy, but actually favor him for president by an astonishing 14 points. From the analysis by the poll's authors:
The past several weeks have been filled with news stories, editorials and columns heaping criticism on the tactics and strategy of the Romney campaign. Many of these opinion pieces even suggested that Romney’s only hope for winning is to make substantial changes to his campaign. Much of this analysis is based on the premise that Romney is out of touch and has not been making an affirmative case to middle-class voters. His comments at a private fundraiser in May were pointed to as an illustration that he could never identify with and win the support of many middle-class voters. We took a special look at middle-class voters, and middle-class families in particular, in this latest POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll and found that not to be the case. In fact, on every measure it is Romney who is winning the battle for the support of middle-class families.
Overall, Obama leads Romney by just 3 points on the ballot (50 percent to 47 percent) – which before we rounded up, is actually a 2.6 point lead and only up a half-a-percentage point from the 2.1 point lead for Obama in our last Battleground poll in early August. In our latest POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll with middle-class families, which comprise about 54 percent of the total American electorate and usually split in their vote behavior between Republicans and Democrats, Romney holds a 14-point advantage (55 percent to 41 percent). Middle-class families are more inclined to believe the country is on the wrong track (34 percent right direction, 62 percent wrong track), are more likely to hold an unfavorable view of Obama (48 percent favorable, 51 percent unfavorable), and hold a more favorable view of Romney (51 percent favorable, 44 percent unfavorable) and Paul Ryan (46 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable) than the overall electorate. These middle-class families also hold a majority disapproval rating on the job Obama is doing as president (45 percent approve, 54 percent disapprove), and turn even more negative toward Obama on specific areas; the economy 56 percent disapprove; spending 61 percent disapprove; taxes, 53 percent disapprove; Medicare 48 percent disapprove; and even foreign policy 50 percent disapprove.
Romney, by contrast, leads President Obama among middle class families not only in absolute terms, but also on issues. On every issue except one -- ironically enough, the question of who would "stand up" for the middle class -- Romney leads the president, in some cases by as many as 9 points (as he does on the economy). This juxtaposition suggests that the middle class trusts the President to fight for them, but don't necessarily think he would win that fight, or prosecute it successfully.
Romney also attracts 40 percent support from the Hispanic community - a relatively high number for a Republican - and leads Hispanic men by even wider margins. And for those who are worried that this election is becoming too much about Romney and not enough about Obama, there is some very good news as well:
Presidential reelection races are almost always about the incumbent and whether or not they should be given an additional four years in office. This race looks to be no different. There is no sign of any good economic news on the horizon and two-thirds of the American electorate is focused on pocketbook issues as their top concern. Fifty-seven percent of these voters disapprove of the job the president is doing on the economy, 62 percent disapprove in his handling of the budget and federal spending, and 54 percent believe that Romney would be better at job creation. Yes, Romney has the issue advantage with these pocketbook-focused voters, and is winning their support by 53 percent to Obama’s 44 percent.
One note of caution: The poll does show the president leading overall among likely voters, though by a scant 2.6 point margin, which is within the 3.1% margin of error. This is most likely due to a 2 point lead among independents generally -- a deficit which is not impossible for Romney to make up with a few good performances in the debates.
You can get additional insights into the poll over on the blog.