January 5, 2012

Public Views of Inequality, Fairness and Wall Street

77%

Roughly three-quarters of the public (77%) say that they think there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and large corporations in the United States.

Roughly three-quarters of the public (77%) say that they think there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and large corporations in the United States. About nine-in-ten (91%) Democrats and eight-in-ten (80%) of independents hold this view; a much narrower majority (53%) of Republicans do as well. For historical perspective, six-in-ten (60%) Americans expressed this view in a 1941 Gallup poll.

Reflecting a parallel sentiment, 61% of Americans now say that the economic system in this country unfairly favors the wealthy; just 36% say the system is generally fair to most Americans. About three-quarters (76%) of Democrats and 61% of independents share this view. In contrast, a majority (58%) of Republicans say that the system is generally fair to most Americans.

The public also views Wall Street negatively — this has changed little since March of this year. Currently, just 36% of people say Wall Street helps the economy more than it hurts it; 51% say it hurts more than it helps. Majorities of both Democrats (60%) and independents (54%) say Wall Street hurts more than helps, while. Nearly half of Republicans say Wall Street helps the economy (49%). Read More