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February 27, 2012 / Political Fluency

The $50,000 Question

Why is Mitt Romney having a problem running away with the nomination in a weak field?

Inspired by Jay Cost’s article on the Florida primary, I looked to expand the chart to show each candidate’s Total Vote Percentage against the Vote Percentage for households making under $50,000 per year based on exit polls from the available states that have voted so far.

With the exception of one state each*, you can see with Santorum and Gingrich there is not much fluctuation between their vote totals and with those making less than $50,000 annually.

Surprisingly the man who wants to reduce government services to those earning less money while decreasing tax rates and government regulation on the wealthiest actually gets a significant boost in support by those making $50,000 or less.

Or maybe this isn’t so surprising, but more on that another time. [It’s not just because a lot of his voters are young.]

And here’s why the $50,000 question is actually the answer to Romney’s struggles.

This is what Mitt Romney’s problem actually is. The meme that Romney needs to connect more with conservatives isn’t nearly as accurate as his pressing need to connect with voters in households making $50,000 or less.

With Michigan and Arizona tomorrow, take a look at this:

Obviously the two states haven’t voted yet, but the RCP Average tends to be a very accurate predictor.

It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that Arizona’s median income being higher than Michigan’s is correlating with Romney’s larger lead there.

And by the way, the median income of the entire US as of December 2011 is $51,413 and that’s an increase from August 2011 when it was $49,434. Maybe Republicans should be rooting for an economic recovery. It might be the only way that 50% of the voters will be rich enough to connect with Romney.

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*My guesses for each aberration: Santorum won Iowa but was competing with many more candidates. Gingrich’s fall in the polls began right after winning South Carolina. Florida was only 3 days later so it wasn’t until Nevada that the under $50,000 vote skewed away from his total vote percentage in the state.

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