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Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama ignoring nation's poor during campaign

Published: Friday, Oct. 5 2012 10:38 a.m. MDT

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama laugh after the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver.

Associated Press

Although presidential campaign rhetoric and the subsequent media coverage have largely focused on the economy, the situation of the poor has barely been discussed, according to Jeffery Buchannan, a senior policy analyst with Oxfam America. The big news is that since 2007 the number of working families living under the poverty line grew by more than 25 percent.

But its a story that isn't getting much play in the media. In fact, a recent study of national media sources found that just 0.2 percent of election coverage has focused on the challege of poverty.

Most of this campaign’s rhetoric has focused on the candidates' plans to decrease unemployment. But, job creation on its own isn't the ticket to prosperity. Though unemployment has been declining, the number of workers and families in poverty continues to rise. It a trend many economists believe will continue.

Part of the reason this is happening is a function of the kinds of jobs that are being created. Research shows that many of the new jobs being created are low and poverty wage jobs. This highlights the fact that job creation alone will not address the situation for poor, hardworking families.

The presidential candidates ignore the poor at their own peril, however. A recent Gallup poll shows that 50 percent of poor voters are political indpendents. Moreover, voters earning under $20,000 account for a higher percentage of undecided voters than any other income bracket. This is particularly relevant because, as Buchannan notes, the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia saw poverty increase by 27.9 percent, well above the national average.

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