Almost half of Americans say Wall Street banks have made the “American Dream” more difficult to attain, according to a national poll released Wednesday that also shows capitalism still has strong support.
The RealClear Opinion Research survey shows 45 per cent of Americans say Wall Street and investment firms make it harder for them to achieve the American Dream, while 26 per cent say they make no difference and 13 per cent say they make the goal easier to win.
The financial industry is in good company with numbers like those: 56 per cent say Congress makes it harder to attain the American Dream, 51 per cent say that of President Donald Trump and 47 per cent feel that way about the judicial system.
Capitalism, meanwhile, is alive and well in America: a combined 58 per cent in the new poll say free markets either should be regulated less or are working well, while 15 per cent say they are not working well and stronger government regulation is needed. Just more than a quarter -- 27 per cent -- say capitalism and free markets are broken and strong governmental control of health care, housing and education is needed.
The poll has fodder for both Trump and the Democrats who are vying to challenge him in the 2020 election.
Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have targeted Wall Street as a driver of economic inequality and several other candidates seeking the Democratic nomination have embraced sweeping proposals for expanding government programs such as Medicare for all and subsidized childcare.
Trump and other Republicans have branded the Democratic proposals as socialist."People are very critical of the state of capitalism today, but I think it’s a false choice and I think it’s a false assumption to believe, therefore, that they are socialists," John Della Volpe, the polling director for RealClear Opinion Research and the Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, told reporters on a conference call.
Della Volpe said the survey also found that the Democratic primary electorate may not be as liberal as it’s sometimes portrayed. He pointed to questions in the poll that asked voters to rank themselves and what they would like in their next president on a scale of zero to 100, with zero being strongly progressive and 100 being strongly conservative.
For all registered voters, the average was 54 on both question. For Democratic primary voters, Della Volpe said the average for both questions was "right around 40," with 50 being moderate. "The Democratic primary electorate is left of center, but not far left of center," he said.
The online poll of 2,224 registered voters was conducted Feb. 22-26 and has a 2.2 percentage point margin of error on the full sample, but larger on subgroups.