LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Both Presidential tickets are eager to prove they value middle class voters.
But defining "middle class" can be tricky.
"The middle class represents the largest number of the voting population," said Dr. Tim Dale, of the UW-La Crosse's Political Science Department.
"They also tend to be the swing voters," Dale said. "People in the middle class are people interested in a variety of issues that cut across party platforms. So the middle class is interested in national security, in taxation policies and education, just to name a few of them."
President Barack Obama has more or less set the maximum household income for the middle class at $250-thousand a year, as he has said he would not extend the George W. Bush era tax cuts on that portion of the population.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney has also set the upper boundary in that general area – telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos he considers "middle income" to be roughly $200 or $250-thousand a year and below.
Romney, however, does support extending the Bush tax cuts for those making a household income of more than $250-thousand annually.
"If your household income is greater than $100-thousand, you're in the top 20 percent of income distribution nationally," said Taggert Brooks, a professor of economics at the UW-La Crosse.
Brooks added that economic definition of "middle class" is much narrower than the political definition.
The U.S. Census Bureau sets the national, median household income at roughly $50-thousand a year.
"The middle 20 percent of income distribution in our country goes from $38,500 to $61-thousand," Brooks said.
But Dale said politicians tend to favor the broader definition.
"People tend to think of themselves as middle class," he said. "So if you ask Americans what class they belong to, most would answer that they belong to the middle class."
"Politically speaking, middle class means ‘who's listening to me right now?' Or the people I need to vote for me," Dale said.
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