More Americans say it is important that the federal government enact policies that grow the economy and increase equality of opportunity than say the same about reducing the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor.
These data, from a Nov. 28-Dec.1 Gallup survey, show that while 46% of Americans believe it is extremely or very important that the federal government in Washington reduce the income and wealth gap between the rich and poor, 70% say it is important for the government to increase equality of opportunity, and 82% say it is important for the government to grow and expand the economy.
Americans are now less likely to see U.S. society as divided into the "haves" and "have nots" than they were in 2008, returning to their views prior to that point. A clear majority, 58%, say they do not think of America in this way, after Americans were divided 49% to 49% in the summer of 2008.
The shift, documented by a Gallup poll conducted Nov. 28-Dec. 1, is noteworthy in that it came after 3 ½ years of economic turmoil in which more Americans have become unemployed and more have become negative about their personal finances. The current poll was also conducted as the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to focus on the disparities between the wealthiest 1% of Americans and everyone else.
If they had to choose, 58% of Americans would say they are in the "haves," rather than the "have nots" group. This breakdown has held remarkably steady over the past two decades of economic boom and bust, with a record-high 67% of Americans putting themselves in the "haves" category during the strong economic times of the late 1990s.