The U.S. economy has posted its strongest six months of growth since 2003, news that usually would be a boon to the party in power heading into congressional elections.
Yet President Barack Obama and Democrats haven’t been able to take credit for the gains. On Election Day, they’re at risk of losing control of the Senate, though it is the Republicans who have blocked measures aimed at strengthening growth.
That’s because Americans say they don’t feel the progress in their daily lives and they blame both parties for the political deadlock in Washington. The U.S. government’s failure to address the economy’s main weakness -- stagnant middle-class earnings -- damages Democrats the most.
“This wage squeeze on the working and middle class is real, and it is causing an enormous amount of frustration and anger,” said Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report in Washington. “Voters are looking to send signals, and they’re going to blame the party in the White House.”
Economists often define middle-class households as those with annual incomes between the 20th and 80th percentiles, which in 2012 was between $20,600 and $104,000, according to theCongressional Research Service. The working class is defined as wage earners, particularly those who make a living through manual labor.