The faithful within both the Republican and Democratic folds claim their chosen party leaders are champions of the American middle class. But the majority of independents who form the largest slice of that vast demographic overwhelmingly aren't buying it, pegging the Republicans as the party of the wealthy while also believing that Democratic policies somewhat tend to favor the poor.

That finding is among the most interesting in a new study by the Pew Research Center, which looks at the decline in income, wealth and optimism for Americans identifying as middle class. The report begins with the finding that fewer and fewer Americans even consider themselves to be in that socioeconomic group.

Since this is a presidential election year, some of the political findings are among the most salient. Click 'Start' to see some of the most interesting nuggets from the report.