Gallup: Romney leads among middle-income voters

For weeks, the Obama campaign has labored mightily to paint Mitt Romney as out of touch with middle America, a member of the One Percent that destroys companies and middle-class jobs.  How has that strategy worked?  Gallup’s poll data shows that Romney leads Barack Obama narrowly among voters who earn between $36,000 and $90,000 per year, and that the lead in that group doubles among independent voters:

Mitt Romney currently has a 49% to 45% edge over Barack Obama among middle-income voters, those whose annual household income is between $36,000 and $89,999. Romney has the same lead among upper-income voters, while Obama maintains a wide advantage among lower-income voters.

The results are based on Gallup Daily tracking of 2012 election preferences by demographic group, including more than 9,000 interviews with registered voters conducted between May 14 and June 3. During this period, Obama and Romney were tied at 46% among all registered voters.

Voting preferences by income group have been fairly well-established since Gallup began tracking the general election on April 11. Obama’s lead over Romney among low-income voters has ranged between 13 and 16 percentage points in each of the three-week rolling averages of the vote by demographic group that Gallup has reported since late April. Meanwhile, Romney’s edge among middle-income voters has been between four and seven points, and among upper-income voters, between four and six points.

Romney, the wealthy former head of Bain Capital, has slightly greater appeal to the highest-income voters in Gallup’s data, those making $180,000 or more in annual income. This group has shown a 53% to 42% preference for Romney since mid-April, compared with 50% to 45% for Romney among those earning between $90,000 and $179,999.

The survey period included two days of post-jobs report polling.  Yesterday’s 7-day rolling average in the tracking poll put Obama up by one, 46/45, with a 47/45 approval rating.  The next few days should show whether Obama will take a big hit from the bad jobs report on Friday and his campaign’s fumbling of the issue over the weekend, but so far the change from the addition of the two days does not appear dramatic.

The internals of the Gallup data do show some worrisome signs for both candidates.  As I noted earlier, independents in the middle income level back Romney by eight, 48/40.  Perhaps more worrisome for Obama, he only wins low-income independents by six points, and at a low 44/38.  The gender gap disappears in the middle and high income brackets for Obama, too; he’s only +3 among women in the $36K-90K range, while losing men by -14, and +9 among women in the over-$90K demo while trailing by -16 among men.  Romney is net+11 and +7 in the gender gap in those ranges.

Obama trails in all three income categories by double digits among white voters, for instance, while Romney trails by 52 points or more in all three categories among non-whites.  Romney was not expected to do well among minority voters, but he probably needs to get closer than a -55 among middle-income non-white voters.  On the other hand, Obama won in 2008 by winning the lower and competing in the middle income categories among white voters, and he’s not at all competitive at the moment.

Romney addresses that issue today in his new ad aimed at Hispanic voters, “Dismal,” which focuses on the economic harm that has come to Hispanics over the last four years:

We’ll see if Romney can make inroads among Hispanic voters, but at least for now, he’s not conceding that demographic.

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