Is Stratford Hills, the middle-class ground zero that President Obama chose for his town-hall-style discussion about the economy on Wednesday, really middle-class?
The aging city suburb isn't exactly Short Pump or Woodlake, the populous middle-class suburban havens in Henrico and Chesterfield counties, respectively. The average household income in the area that includes the Stratford Hills neighborhood is $55,422, according to 2000 U.S. Census tallies. And the per capita income of the Stratford Hills resident is $33,726.
Area income is low enough not to induce upper middle-class conservatism, and it's likely the White House knew this when selecting the Southampton Recreation Center to address a select group of roughly 15 Stratford Hills residents.
Stratford Hills, however, is located in a district represented by one of Obama's most vocal critics, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor.
David Hathcock, public liaison for City Council President Kathy Graziano, isn't surprised the White House chose the city's 4th District, which includes Stratford Hills. “This is a good place to reach the middle,” Hathcock says. “There isn't a person out here who doesn't have some unease about the national economy. But the people in the middle here aren't looking for scapegoats.”
As it turned out, the folks in the middle were less concerned with the economy than partisanship in Washington. Asked twice about a lack of civility in the political discourse, Obama acknowledged that the “good feeling that we had in the campaign has dissipated.”
“We're a little discouraged,” he said. “But that can't mean that people will stay home in November.”