The Republicans' best chance of beating President Barack Obama this year was to hang the sluggish economy around his neck. But even that chance broke against them. The Bureau of Economic Analysis just released data on local area personal income for the first three years of the Obama Administration. In 2011, for the first time since 2007, personal income rose in all 366 big metros studied.

Quintiles of personal income growth in metropolitan statistical areas, 2011, BEA

Midland, TX, up 14.8%; Rochester, MN, up just 1.0%, but everybody up in 2011.

In the Rapid City area, personal income per capita rose 5.9% in 2011. In the Sioux Falls metro, income rose 6.3%. But no metro in the country (and remember, these cities are real America, making up more than 80% of the population) saw income go down. Nationally, income grew at 5.2% in 2011, compared to 3.9% in 2010. Inflation went from 1.9% in 2010 to 2.4% in 2011.

Income grew darn near everywhere last year. Income grew faster than inflation, which remained below historical averages despite dire warnings that hyperinflation was imminent. The economy isn't great. Plenty of people are still struggling to find work. But these new economic numbers suggest and underlying reality of growth that may have undermined Mitt Romney's campaign strategy.