Americans are broadly concerned about inequality of wealth and income despite an economy that has improved by most measures, a sentiment that is already driving the 2016 presidential contest, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.
The poll found that a strong majority say that wealth should be more evenly divided and that it is a problem that should be addressed urgently. Nearly six in 10 Americans said government should do more to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, but they split sharply along partisan lines. Only one-third of Republicans supported a more active government role, versus eight in 10 of Democrats.
These findings help explain the populist appeals from politicians of both parties, but particularly Democrats, who are seeking to capitalize on the sense among Americans that the economic recovery is benefiting only a handful at the very top.
The percentage of Americans who say everyone has a fair chance to get ahead in today’s economy has fallen 17 percentage points since early 2014. Six in 10 Americans now say that only a few people at the top have an opportunity to advance.
- Raising taxes on people earning more than $1 million a year: 68% favor, 30% oppose;
- Raising taxes on financial transactions: 33% favor, 59% oppose;
- Limiting pay of top corporate executives: 50% favor, 45% oppose;
- Raise minimum wage to $10.10: 71% favor, 26% oppose;
- Requiring "requiring fast-food chains and other hourly employers to pay workers at least $15 per hour": 38% favor, 60% oppose;
- Favor trade restrictions over free trade: 63% restriction, 30% free trade;
- NAFTA: 63% do know know enough to offer an opinion;
- TPP: 78% admit that they have heard/read "not much" or "nothing at all."