Romney didn’t win the middle class

Updated
 
Stu Stevens and Mitt Romney
Stu Stevens and Mitt Romney
Associated Press

It was inevitable that Mitt Romney’s aides, if only to improve their own career prospects, would start pushing back against the notion that the Republican campaign was a failed, poorly-run enterprise. And after a few weeks in which Team Romney has taken a lot of heat in recent weeks, most notably from their allies, former chief strategist Stuart Stevens has become the leading defender.

So far, it’s off to a rough start. Stevens seemed to brag this week about losing poor, minority voters to President Obama, as if their votes were somehow less important. Alec McGillis labeled it “47 percenterism,” since the attitude is clearly an extension of the haughty elitism that plagued the overall campaign.

But Tim Noah took this a step further and questioned Stevens’ factual claims. For the Republican strategist, what matters is the fact that Romney won “every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year,” which means “he carried the majority of middle-class voters.”

Putting aside the fact that nearly half the country makes less $50,000 a year and their votes count, too, Noah notes that the claim itself isn’t quite right.

[W]here does Stevens get the idea that winning the more clubbable majority of voters earning $50,000 or more means Romney “carried the majority of middle-class voters”? Perhaps from President Obama, who during the election preposterously defined as poor or “middle class” any household earning up to $250,000. But if you follow the lead of Romney adviser Martin Feldstein, who defined as poor or middle class any household earning up to $100,000, then that group went for Obama by a healthy 10-point spread, 54-44 percent. This group represented a hefty 72 percent of the electorate.

Noah added that if you define the middle class in a literal sense – looking at the total electorate, subtracting the top and bottom quintile – Obama won here, too.

As a practical matter, this doesn’t much matter – it’s apparently more about bragging rights – but policymakers and the political world shouldn’t be under the impression that the middle class abandoned Obama for Romney this year. That’s just not what happened.

Mitt Romney

Romney didn't win the middle class

Updated