WASHINGTON (CBS WASHINGTON) — President Obama has the edge over Mitt Romney as the protector of the middle class, but a vast majority of voters still say that it’s more difficult for middle class to maintain their standard of living.

Although neither candidate has sealed the deal with the beleaguered demographic, just over half – 52 percent – of adults who self-identify as middle class say they believe that Obama’s policies in a second term will help them, according to a Pew Research survey.

However, 39 percent also said they think his policies will not help, according to the July survey. Forty-two percent said that Romney’s election would help the middle class, while 40 percent said it would not help.

The Pew survey was conducted using 1,287 adults who described themselves as middle class, as supplemented by data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

There is much more discrepancy in the judgments of the middle class about the likely impact of the two candidates’ policies on the wealthy and the poor. Fully seven-in-ten (71 percent) middle-class respondents say Romney’s policies would help the wealthy, while just a third (33 percent) say they would help the poor.

Judgments about Obama tilt the opposite way. Roughly four-in-ten (38 percent) middle-class respondents say his policies would help the wealthy, and about six-in-ten (62 percent) say they would help the poor.

Those surveyed are also not limiting blame just to the office of the president.

Fully 85 percent of self-described middle-class adults say it is more difficult now than it was a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living.

Of those who feel this way, 62 percent say “a lot” of the blame lies with Congress, while 54 percent say the same about banks and financial institutions, 47 percent about large corporations, 44 percent about the Bush administration, 39 percent about foreign competition and 34 percent about the Obama administration. Just 8 percent blame the middle class itself a lot.


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