In a country of dreamers and achievers, we seem surprisingly content in the middle.
The term "middle class" is at once useful for political purposes and practically useless as an economic descriptor. Without a consensus on an economic definition, nearly half of the country self-identifies as being in the middle class.
That gives politicians an opportunity to make far-reaching appeals to voters, speaking to Americans with incomes of $30,000 and $100,000 in the same breath.
In the vast majority of pre-election polls, likely voters are usually asked, "If the election were held today, for whom would you vote?"
That's the wrong question to ask, says Justin Wolfers, a political economist with the University of Michigan. He's spent years researching polls, and in a new paper he offers what he says is the right question:
With the arrival of the last weekend before Election Day, it's crunchtime for President Obama and Mitt Romney.
Heading into the last 72 hours of their fight for the White House, it's the moment in the campaign when the president and his challenger make their closing arguments, fine tuned to excite their committed supporters but not so partisan as to drive off the diminishing sliver of wavering voters still left to be won over.
Originally published on Sat November 3, 2012 1:44 pm
There's presidential politics and then there's puppet politics. You may recall that in the first presidential debate GOP contender Mitt Romney made a statement that caused the two worlds to collide.
"I am going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too," Romney said, referring to moderator Jim Lehrer. "But I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it."