Posts Tagged ‘poll’


While we keep hearing the catchphrase “We’re all in this together,” most of us know we’re not.

Not in terms of the novel coronavirus pandemic. And even less in terms of the economic crisis caused by the response to the pandemic.

Just consider the lines that have formed. The lines of workers who are being subject to dangerous conditions while they commute to and labor in “essential” services and production; the lines of other workers who have been furloughed or laid off, who are waiting for their claims to be processed; the lines of the poor and needy waiting outside food pantries—their lives and livelihoods were precarious even before the pandemic. And now they’re even worse.

As it turns out, to judge from a survey conducted by Harris Poll and Lehigh University (pdf) in early April, the vast majority of Americans are well aware that something needs to be done to address the obscene levels of inequality in the United States. In response to the question “how important is it that the U.S. government commit to reducing economic inequality (i.e., the unequal distribution of income and opportunity between different groups) in this country within the next year?” 78 percent consider it to be somewhat or very important, while only 22 percent think it’s not very or not at all important. And those numbers are pretty consistent across different groups: gender, age, region, income, education, and so forth.

What that means is that the terms of the current debate—stay at home or reopen the economy, bail out corporations or states, and so on—miss the point entirely. What the vast majority of Americans want is for their government to commit itself to reducing the grotesque levels of economic inequality that preceded the pandemic, which have been highlighted by and only gotten more obscene during the current economic crisis.


According to a new New York Times poll, Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s soaring levels of unpopularity (55 and 52 percent, respectively, compared to favorability ratings of 26 and 31 percent) are extraordinary for the likely nominees of the two major parties. And the head-to-head advantage Clinton enjoys over Trump has narrowed considerably in recent weeks (down to 6 points).

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is the only one of the three to have a net positive favorability rating (of 8 points). He also leads a hypothetical matchup against Trump, 51 percent to 38 percent.

Extra reading

Here are some related pieces that deserve a Sunday read:

Thomas Frank on why Hillary Clinton’s 90s nostalgia is so dangerous.

The ongoing debate concerning Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare law, by Robert Pear.

Trevor Timm’s list of five things people should stop saying about Bernie Sanders.

The actual history of the end of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, for those who have forgotten or choose not to remember.


It’s an issue that often comes up with my students. They believe the key problem in the country is the growing polarization between the two major political parties. Nothing gets done because politicians from opposing parties don’t seem to agree on anything.

But, as Robert Weissman [ht: ja] explains, “That story is not true.”

In fact, Americans overwhelmingly agree on a wide range of issues. They want policies to make the economy more fair and hold corporate executives accountable. They want stronger environmental and consumer protections. And they want to fix our political system so that it serves the interest of all, not just Big Money donors. These aren’t close issues for Americans; actually, what’s surprising is the degree of national consensus.

The problem isn’t that Americans don’t agree. The problem is that the corporate class doesn’t agree with this agenda, and that class dominates our politics.


The question in the table from a recent Democracy Corps/Roosevelt National questionnaire (pdf) is a good example. Fully 73 percent of those polled were (very or somewhat) convinced by the following story:

The rules that govern our economy no longer work for Americans. For 40 years, economic policies have rewarded large corporations and the wealthiest with the promise that their gains would “trickle down” to everyone else. It hasn’t worked. Instead we have faced sluggish growth and economic insecurity for more and more Americans with all the gains going to the top. It is time to rewrite the rules of our economy so small businesses and average American families have a chance too, not just the wealthy and well-connected. That starts with preventing corporations and CEOs from flooding the political process with money so they can manipulate the rules to their advantage. Then we can focus on policies that will grow our economy and level the playing field—rebalancing the tax code so those at the top pay their fair share like the rest of us, changing corporate governance so CEOs prioritize long term investments in workers and their companies over short-term gains and speculation, and ensuring banks do what they’re supposed to do and serve America’s families and provide loans to productive businesses. We can also raise wages for working people by guaranteeing equal pay for women and create more family-supporting jobs by investing in infrastructure and making college more affordable. We have the power to rewrite the rules of our economy.

The same is true on a wide variety of issues, from increases in the minimum wage to expanding Social Security.

American opinion is not divided. What is true is that the views of the average voter are trumped by a corporate elite that finances and writes the rules for political debate in the United States.

That’s the real gridlock that needs to be broken up.


The members of the political establishment in the United States seem surprised by the astounding success of Bernie Sanders’s campaign. Reuters even has the democratic socialist now leading by more than 6 percentage points.

As it turns out, the political establishment in the United Kingdom has had a similar problem: they don’t understand how Jeremy Corbyn has come to lead the Labor Party.

Simon Wren-Lewis argues that the Left’s success on both sides of the Atlantic really shouldn’t be a surprise. That’s because of the growing importance of the financial sector, which has fueled obscene levels of inequality and created the conditions for the Second Great Depression.

The establishment on the centre left often seems too timid or ignorant to talk about the power of the financial sector, and is therefore unwilling to challenge it. Many ordinary people who support the left in the UK and US do have some understanding of what has gone on. It should therefore not be surprising that they have moved away from established leaders towards those – like Corbyn and Sanders – who are willing to talk more openly about the power of the financial sector and inequality.

Why were politicians and the media so surprised by this success? I think it tells us how insular the Westminster and Washington bubbles really are. Political commentators talk to politicians who talk to political commentators. It tells us how embedded the influence of the City and Wall Street is. The media relies on economists from the financial sector, and so tends to see the economy from their perspective.

The blind spot is mostly to the left, because we have the Daily Mail and Fox News. As a result, it came as a complete surprise that a crisis caused by the financial sector that left that sector unscathed but instead led to a diminished role for the state, might make many people rather angry.

Surprised? Don’t be.



Apparently, the British public [ht: ja] are generally proud of their country’s role in subjecting the world to colonialism and the British Empire, according to a new poll: 44 percent were proud of Britain’s history of colonialism, while only 21 percent regretted that it happened. 23 percent held neither view.


The same poll also asked about whether the British Empire was a good thing or a bad thing: 43 percent said it was good, while only 19 percent said it was bad. Twenty-five percent responded that it was “neither.”

I suppose the results are not surprising if, in fact, as the author of the article observes, the “British Empire is not widely taught in detail in British schools.” Therefore, British schoolchildren don’t learn about the numerous atrocities committed in creating and maintaining the empire—such as the Boer concentration camps, the Amritsar massacre, the partitioning of India, the Mau Mau uprising, and the famines in India.

What little they and their parents do learn probably comes from the likes of Niall Ferguson, the author of the 2003 book Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (on which a television series of the same name, starring Ferguson, was based).

Ferguson actually attempts to come up with an answer to the question, was the empire good or bad? And, no surprise, Harvard’s incorrectly political ignorant gay-bashing bloviating right-wing infotainment war-crimes-apologist historian’s answer is the British empire was a good thing:

Many charges can of course be levelled against the British Empire. I do not claim, as Lord Curzon did, that “the British Empire is under Providence the greatest instrument for good that the world has seen”; nor, as General Smuts claimed, that it was “the widest system of organised human freedom which has ever existed in human history”. The Empire was never so altruistic. In the 18th century the British were as zealous in the acquisition and exploitation of slaves as they were subsequently zealous in trying to stamp slavery out; and for much longer they practised a form of racial discrimination and segregation that we today consider abhorrent. When imperial authority was challenged – in India in 1857, in Jamaica in 1831 or 1865, in South Africa in 1899 – the British response was brutal. When famine struck (Ireland in the 1840s, India in the 1870s) their response was negligent, in some measure positively culpable.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that no organisation in history has done more to promote the free movement of goods, capital and labour than the British Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries. And no organisation has done more to impose Western norms of law, order and governance around the world. For much (though certainly not all) of its history, the British Empire acted as an agency for relatively incorrupt government. Prima facie, there therefore seems a plausible case that empire enhanced global welfare – in other words, was a Good Thing.

I suppose the best one can say is, Ferguson understands the brutality of the empire striking back. But, in the name of “global welfare,” his argument suggests he would join forty-plus percent of the British public and be on the side of the empire striking again.


Back in May, the pollster YouGov surveyed Americans about their thoughts on socialism and capitalism.


This month, after the Democratic debate, YouGov decided to poll the same question.

One thing to notice is that Democrats now have a more positive view of socialism—by double digits.

The question is: who are these 9-11 percent of Republicans who have a favorable opinion of socialism? I can’t say I’ve met any of them.


YouGov also asked people the Anderson Cooper question: do you consider yourself a capitalist or socialist?

Capitalists outnumber socialists by three-to-one (30% to 9%) overall, but the majority say neither (46%) or “Not sure” (15%). Most independents and most Democrats are in neither the “socialist” nor the “capitalist” camp (though 21% identify as socialists, versus 14% as capitalists). Most Republicans (57%), however, call themselves capitalists.


A new New York Times/CBS poll [pdf] confirms what every other recent poll I’ve seen has shown:

  • Americans overwhelmingly believe current economic arrangements in the United States are fundamentally unfair (because “just a few people at the top have a chance to get ahead,” the distribution of money and wealth “should be more even,” and the gap between the rich and poor is “getting larger”) and
  • something should be done about it (since the gap between rich and poor needs to be “addressed now”,” the government should do more to “reduce gap,” and they “favor” raising taxes on people earning more than $1 million a year).


According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll [ht: sm], a majority of Americans answered yes to the following question: are the country’s economic and political systems stacked against people like you?

Among those saying the system is stacked against them are 58% of Democrats; 51% of Republicans; 55% of whites; 60% of blacks; 53% of Hispanics; as well as decent majorities of every age and professional cluster, including blue-collar workers, white-collar workers and retirees.

So who are the rare outliers who feel more in synch with the system? Not surprisingly, those who are well off and well educated. Among those with post-graduate degrees, just 38% say they feel the system is stacked against them. Among those who earn more than $75,000 a year, 44% feel that way.

Clearly, many Americans feel like turkeys these days, with the system stacked against them.

Poll of the day

Posted: 16 November 2014 in Uncategorized
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American voters, as it turns out, are not particularly moderate when it comes to taxes. In fact, they favor raising taxes on the rich, decreasing taxes on the poor, and providing more services benefiting the middle-class and poor.

That’s the result of a poll conducted by David Broockman and Douglas Ahler before the most recent midterm elections.

Brookman and Ahler presented voters with 5 options:

  1. “extreme” progressive option: establish a maximum annual income by taxing all income over $1 million at a 100 percent rate
  2. “extreme” progressive option that has some Senate support: raise taxes on those making over $250,000 by more than 5 percent
  3. “mainstream” Democratic position: up taxes about 5 percent on those making over $250,000
  4. “moderate” position: maintain current federal tax rates, i.e., the status quo
  5. “mainstream” Republican stance: cut taxes, even for high earners
  6. “extreme” position on the Right with some Senate support: move to a “flat” income tax and have everyone, rich and poor alike, pay taxes at the exact same rate
  7. “extreme” Right position: replace the income tax with a tax on consumption


As readers can see from the results, just over two thirds—67 percent—chose the three options that involve raising taxes on the rich. Only 22 percent chose any of the conservative tax options.

As Sam Pizzigati [ht: db] explains,

The combined support for the two “extreme” progressive positions — a 100 percent tax on income over $1 million and over a 5 percent tax increase for those making over $250,000 — more than doubled support for the two “extreme” conservative positions, by a 40 to 19 percent margin.

The public support Broockman and Ahler found for what would be, in effect, a “maximum wage” may rate as their survey’s most remarkable finding.

No prominent elected leader in America is currently banging the drums for a 100 percent tax rate on income over $1 million. Yet this option received more support — 13 percent of those surveyed back it — than the “flat tax,” a proposal prominent GOP national figures have been pushing for decades.

Americans overall, this new polling suggests, want a tax system that targets the concentration of income at America’s economic summit.

Chart of the day

Posted: 20 June 2014 in Uncategorized
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The bottom-line of a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll concerning American’s views about poverty [ht: sm]:

The poll shows a significant shift in American opinion on the causes of poverty since the last time the question was asked, nearly 20 years ago. In 1995, in the midst of a raging political debate about welfare and poverty, less than a third of poll respondents said people were in poverty because of issues beyond their control. At that time, a majority said that poverty was caused by “people not doing enough.” Now, nearly half of respondents, 47 percent, attribute poverty to factors other than individual initiative.