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Obama Beats Romney as Better for Middle-Income Americans

Candidates are tied in perceptions of who would most benefit small-business owners

Gallup (PRINCETON, NJ) — More Americans believe middle-income earners would be better off in four years if President Barack Obama is re-elected than if Mitt Romney wins, by 53% to 43%. The public also says lower-income Americans would be better off under an Obama presidency, while, by an even larger margin, they say upper-income Americans would do better under Romney.

Candidate Seen as Better for Various Groups, September 2012

Track the 2012 race and compare it to past elections >

…Independents’ views, important given their role as swing voters in what could be a close election, closely match those of the public at large.

Net Percentage^ Choosing Barack Obama Over Mitt Romney as Better for Each Group, by Party ID, September 2012

Bottom Line

Americans overwhelmingly believe a continuation of the Obama presidency would be more helpful to racial and ethnic minorities, lower-income Americans, and women than would a Romney presidency. On the other hand, they perceive that upper-income Americans and investors would be better off if Romney wins. These images of the two candidates generally fit the traditional profile of the Democratic and Republican parties. Also, the view that a Romney presidency would disproportionately favor the rich and investors has been a persistent theme in the Obama campaign’s focus on Romney, underscoring concerns highlighted earlier by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Still, it is not clear whether these strong special-interest-oriented associations are more helpful or harmful to either candidate. For example, some may consider Romney’s potential aid to investors as undesirable, while others could see it as a positive — believing that what is good for investors is in turn good for the overall economy. Similarly, the view that Obama would help lower-income Americans is likely considered positive by many, but could be interpreted as more negative by those who are leery of increased government involvement in redistribution of income.

Small business ranks as one of the most well-respected institutions in the U.S. according to recent Gallup polling, and thus it’s notable that Obama and Romney are tied in perceptions of whose presidency would most benefit small-business owners.

Perhaps the most important of these groups for the candidates is “middle-income” Americans, as this represents the broad core of the electorate and, among income groups, is least strongly supportive of one candidate or the other. The fact that Obama has a 10-percentage-point edge over Romney in perceptions of the candidate who would be better for this group may help explain his current advantage in registered voters’ preferences for president in Gallup Daily tracking…(Lydia Saad and Frank Newport)

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