In the past, Wall Street-backed politicians of both parties have counted on the voting public not to pay attention to banking and financial issues so they could reward their big bank donors with deregulation and tax breaks.
That calculus changed with the financial crisis in 2008. Consistently since, voters of all parties have said they want to curb Wall Street’s influence in Washington, and they want elected leaders who will stand up to the big banks and predatory lenders that target our communities.
It’s Take On Wall Street’s job to get the politicians to listen to the rest of us. One of the ways we do that is to continually bust the myth that Americans don’t care about the financial system, or aren’t watching.
We did our own national poll in 2018, and we found that people were willing to vote their concerns over the financial industry’s role in perpetuating racial discrimination and economic inequality, the tax bill as first and foremost a gift to Wall Street, and the importance of government working for all Americans, not just campaign donors and Wall Street banks.
Here’s a round-up of recent polling on the subject of Wall Street and the economy which we keep up to date. (Got a poll we missed? Email us.)

 

Gallup Poll Shows Waning Confidence in Racial Fairness for Housing, Jobs, The Gallup Center on Black Voices, July 30, 2021
  • For the first time, Gallup recorded less than half of white Americans (46%) believe racial minorities have equal job opportunities.
  • Gallup also found increased support for affirmative action programs for racial minorities with 62% of U.S. adults now favoring such programs — this year’s percentage is the highest in the trend of increasing support for affirmative action since 2001.
  • Meanwhile, only 14% of Black Americans say racial minorities have the same job opportunities afforded to white people.
New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Biden’s Plans to Raise Taxes on Wealthy and Corporations, Americans for Tax Fairness/Hart Research, June 2021
  • Over two-thirds of voters (69%) support raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
  • Every proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations tested in the survey is supported by at least 55% of voters, with most generating over two-thirds support.
  • Only 22% of voters think raising taxes on those earning over $400,000 a year will hurt the economy, while 51% believe it will help it.
  • Sixty-seven percent (67%) of voters say they are more favorable towards Biden’s economic plan because it would raise taxes on those making over $400,000 and on corporations.
Voters Support Strong Consumer Financial Protections and Tough Regulation of Wall Street, Americans for Financial Reform/Lake Research Partners, Sept 29, 2020
  • Over nine in ten voters (91%) say it is important to regulate financial services and products to ensure they are fair to consumers, including 68% who say it is very important.
  • This level of support is consistent across demographic groups, including by age, region, race and gender. Intensity is highest in Democrats (74% very supportive), men, younger voters, and those in the Midwest and South (All 71%).
  • There isn’t much partisan difference, either: 94% of Democrats think regulating financial services is important, compared to 90% of Republicans, and 84% of Independents.
Voters Support Postal Banking, Data for Progress, July 14th, 2020
  • 1 in 4 Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and polling shows this drives low-income people, primarily Black and Latinx folks, into predatory lending options such as payday lenders (23%), check-cashing services (43%), or a pawnshop (30%).
  • 3 of 4 voters (75%) support the United States Postal Service offering basic banking services.
  • These numbers split across partisan lines, with approval at 84% among Democrats, 68% from Independents, and 67% among Republicans.
Voters Think the Existing Economic Order is Stacked Against Workers, Data for Progress, July 7th, 2020
  • Americans recognize how the odds are stacked against them. By a near 50 point margin (74-26), voters believe that the economic system favors the rich and powerful.
  • Workers understand how they’re being exploited, and 69% of voters believe “executives use their power to keep wages low” and “the wealthy take advantage of their workers.”
  • Voters are re-thinking their conceptions of work – 6 in 10 of voters disagree with the statement “people who are rich tend to work harder than people who have less money” and 7 in 10 disagree with the sentiment “people who are poor tend to not work as hard.”
States of Play: Battleground & National Likely Voter Surveys on The Economy, COVID-19 & Racism, Change Research/CNBC, June 12-14, 2020
  • Voters hold strongly unfavorable views of major Wall Street banks. Only 12% of respondents said they held ‘Very’ or ‘Somewhat’ views of Wall Street, while 53% found them unfavorable – a 41 point margin. 
  • Average people don’t think the Stock Market is the economy. Asked whether they think the stock market is an accurate reflection of the strength of the ‘real’ economy, 6 in 10 voters disagreed indicating people feel far removed from the financial system. Additionally, a plurality of respondents said they “almost never” think about the stock market.
Voters Across the Political Spectrum Support a Host of Progressive Economic Reforms, Data for Progress, May 2020
  • Voters are strongly in favor of reducing the influence of corporate money in politics: When presented with both sides of the argument, voters approve of greater disclosure of corporate political activity, caps on corporate political contributions, and expansion of voting rights by a 43 point margin (62%-19%).
  • Protecting consumer data and privacy is broadly popular, with 75% saying they support legislation to prevent companies from stealing/selling personal information.
  • Further protections for Student-loan borrowers are necessary. 65% say they’re in favor of increased oversight of lenders in order to protect consumers and improve transparency, compared to 22% that are opposed. 
Framing the Debate on the Economy, Foreign Policy, and Impeachment, Navigator Research, January 2020
  • The following proposal for a policy Washington might consider got +39 net support: “Enforcing and strengthening antitrust laws to break up companies that have gotten too big, such as big banks or technology companies.”
  • When the core of progressive economic arguments fail to address the structural challenges facing regular people, conservative counter- arguments easily prevail, and gain traction even among progressive base groups such as African Americans and Hispanics. However, when highlighting the inequities and disparities faced in the economy, progressive arguments prevail over conservative framings. An example: “Increasingly, our economy only works for people at the top, so we need to make big, bold changes to give everyone the chance to succeed.”
  • Americans overwhelmingly believe Trump’s actions and policies on the economy have been positive for big corporations (71%) and wealthy people (70%), far fewer constituents believe his policies have been positive for people in the middle class (40%) or “people like you” (34%).
Washington Post/IPSOS Poll of Black Americans, Jan 2-8, 2020
  • When 1,088 Black Americans were asked “How many Black children born in the U.S. today have a good opportunity to achieve a comfortable standard of living?”, 80% answered half or less.
  • 42% of those surveyed said the economy was either excellent or good, but 80% said that their financial situation was either staying the same or getting worse.
  • 65% said it was a bad time to be a Black person in America, and 77% said it was a good time to be a White person in America.
Two-thirds of Americans do not feel the benefits of Wall St rally, Financial Times-Peterson Poll, December 2019
  • Larger shares of Americans see their personal financial well-being as detached from the stock market. When asked, “How much of an impact do changes in the stock market have on your personal finances?” 60% of voters said “Not that much” or “No impact.”
  • Differences in connection split along income: Only 10% of those making under $50,000/year said the stock market had a “very strong” impact on the personal finances, while 30% said there was “No impact.”
  • Despite sustained Wall Street growth, 7 in 10 believe they are worse off or have experienced no change in the Trump era: Gains in the stock market and economic growth in the Trump era have become further consolidated at the top.
New Poll Shows Strong Opposition to Private Equity Practices, AFR, Lake Research Partners, and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, November 18th, 2019
  • When introduced to a slate of six tactics commonly used by private equity firms, 70% of voters were concerned about all of them: Majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents held unfavorable views of all six.
  • 7 in 10 are opposed to excessive fees charged to pension funds that profit Wall Street executives. 70% were also opposed to “paying themselves outsized fees for limited services” indicating a desire for stronger oversight and regulation of private equity firms.
  • Strong majorities of each party – including 77% of Independents – are opposed to tax loopholes exploited by private equity to avoid paying their fair share: Tax avoidance loopholes are broadly unpopular and efforts to close them enjoy majority support.
Early State Voters Support Continued Reform of Wall Street, AFR/Lake Research Partners and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, October 7th, 2019
  • Voters approve of Wall Street regulation legislation Dodd-Frank by massive majorities: 81% support the legislation, compared to only 9% who oppose it.
  • While most support previous measures, there remains broad, bipartisan consensus that Wall Street needs further regulation: 90% of voters see financial regulation as important and 75% think the actions of Wall Street merit further regulation. Given pro and anti-reform statements, voters are pro-reform by 40 points (60%-20%).
  • When presented with arguments for both sides, voters believe the financial sector has too much power over the economy, warranting further Federal action: Half say that Wall Street and the financial industry are “too powerful” and “pose a continued threat” compared to 20% who believe government regulation has gone too far. Pro-regulation arguments win out across the ideological spectrum, including Democrats (+50), Independents (+34), and Republicans (+5)
Project Mosaic: Understanding the Economic Perspectives of Black Americans, Groundwork Collaborative, Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies, UnidosUS Action Fund, July 2019
  • Existing public opinion research is limited in what it can tell us about the attitudes of Black Americans when it comes to “kitchen table” economic issues, and most analyses focus on contrasting their experiences with those of white Americans. Consequently, there is little analysis that conveys the nuances of how these groups experience and perceive the economy.
  • Black adults perceive the economy through a people-centered lens and face serious personal economic challenges.
  • While Black adults say individual drive is important for economic success, they also see an economy that’s rigged in favor of the wealthy and privileged.
  • Black adults strongly believe that racism plays a role in the economy and that the government should do more to address it yet are less likely to cite racism as their most significant economic concern.
  • Most believe there has been little improvement in the overall U.S. economy over the last two years, though they are slightly more optimistic about their personal situation.
  • Black adults want the federal government to take a more active role in improving the economy, though there remains a great deal of skepticism that politicians will actually change things for the greater good.
Project Mosaic: Understanding the Economic Perspectives of Latinx Communities, Groundwork Collaborative, Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies, UnidosUS Action Fund, July 2019
  • Existing public opinion research is limited in what it can tell us about the attitudes of Latinx Americans when it comes to “kitchen table” economic issues, and most analyses focus on contrasting their experiences with those of white Americans. Consequently, there is little analysis that conveys the nuances of how these groups experience and perceive the economy.
  • Most Latinx adults say they have not felt much benefit from the economy in the last two years.
  • Women are much less likely than men to have positive things to say about the economy or their own financial situation.
  • Latinx adults face serious “kitchen table” economic challenges.
  • Younger Latinx adults are most likely to want the federal government to take a more active role in improving the economy and are more likely to see the system as rigged.
  • Latinx adults have mixed views on the roles race and racism play in the economy and in their own lives.