Americans Favor Action on Inequality

Pollsters are finding large majorities of the public support correcting disparities in our society, writes Ruy Teixeira.

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Occupy Wall Street has put inequality back in the national conversation. Reflecting this change, pollsters have started to ask more questions about this issue. And they are finding—surprise!—the public doesn’t like current levels of inequality and wants action to correct the situation.

In the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 76 percent agreed and 60 percent strongly agreed that “The current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a very small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country. America needs to reduce the power of major banks and corporations and demand greater accountability and transparency. The government should not provide financial aid to corporations and should not provide tax breaks to the rich.”

That’s impressively high support for such a strong statement.

do you agree with the idea that the current economic structure of the country is out of balance?

Along the same lines, in a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, 60 percent agreed that “our society would be better off if the distribution of wealth was more equal,” compared to just 39 percent who disagreed. And, by 63 percent to 33 percent, respondents agreed that “we need to dramatically reduce inequalities between rich and poor, whites and people of color and men and women.”

do you agree that our society would be better off if the distribution of wealth was more equal?

Conservatives are frantically trying to convince the public that this whole inequality thing is overblown. These data suggest their arguments aren’t getting much traction.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website. 

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow

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