Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist for Mitt Romney's campaign, has written an excellent op-ed piece in the Washington Post. It's well worth a read, but the gist of it is this: Mitt Romney won with the right people... there just weren't enough of the right people.
Stevens backs up Romney's often villified -- but ultimately, fundamentally correct -- assertion that the 47% of people who pay no net federal income tax were unattainable. Stevens writes:
"On Nov. 6, Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters."
We understand the sentiment, but we must pick some nits here. This statement probably isn't correct.
The median household income in the United States happens to be a little less than $50,000. So, he got a majority of the vote from people with higher than average household incomes. But most of the middle class? Probably not. "Middle class" is a loose term, and not pegged to a particular income bracket, but it's often defined as households making between $25,000 and $100,000. Of course, this will vary widely by region -- a family of three in New York City with a household income of $25,000 probably wouldn't consider themselves to be middle class. But a couple living in one of the red states? Probably -- and, by the way, per Wikipedia, the median income for a two-person household was just $39,000 in 2004. And on the other end, there are parts of the country where you can have a household income of considerably more than $100,000 per year and still be in the middle class.
Let's say that the middle class is roughly $25,000 to $100,000 a year. But there's not even distribution. In 2004 (again, per Wikipedia), about 27% of households fell into the $25,000 - $50,000 segment, and about 29% fell into the $50,000 - $100,000 group.
So, a reasonable estimate is that Romney had the lead among voters that were in the top half of the middle class. "Most" is a tough claim to make.
Still, this isn't surprising. Romney correctly predicted this when he made his 47% speech.
Stevens defines the higher-income segment as the right segment because it's these people -- the job creators -- who drive the economy. The Romney team sought after these votes and got them, so on one level, the campaign was a success. It's the high-income voters who understood Romney's message of economic empowerment through lower taxes and fewer regulations for job creators; combined, these mean higher profits, which job creators will use (as the name implies) to create jobs. Some of those jobs will be in the US, and a lot of the workforce will be from that 47%. And when you give somebody a job, they'll have money to spend.