A Pew Research Center survey found that wealth inequality is a big issue for American voters, regardless of political party, heading into the 2020 election. It even beat out illegal immigration, which is the platform incumbent President Donald Trump rode to victory in 2016.
The survey, released Thursday, found that 61% of Americans polled said there is “too much” income inequality in America, while 42% think that reducing it should be a “major priority” for the government. Fighting illegal immigration was only a “major priority” for 39% of those surveyed.
Suffolk University Political Research Center Director David Paleologos said that while the the record stock market is good for Trump’s chances to retake the presidency in 2020, “income inequality, and wealth inequality, is most pronounced when the stock market is doing well,” Paleologos said, according to MarketWatch, which can be a boon for Democrats who can run on that platform to gain support from undecided voters.
When looking at the survey results overall, four of the five things that voters see as “top priorities” for the federal government leaned in favor of Democrats. Affordable health care was the most important issue to “fix” with 72% of voters, regardless of party-leanings, saying it needed to be addressed.
Dealing with terrorism was ranked the second-most important issue to address at 65%, while reducing gun violence (58%) and addressing climate change (49%) rounded out the top five.
Progressive Democrats like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, D-Ver., vying for the primary and the chance to take on Trump have made wealth inequality a centerpiece of their platform. Both candidates have proposed wealth taxes that aim to tax the super-rich to fund a multitude of proposals like health care.
Another study released Monday showed some of the effects income inequality is having on America. The “Life Experiences and Income Inequality in the United States” report released by Harvard’s Chan school, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and National Public Radio, found that the top 1% of income earners — basically anyone making $500,000 or more per year — are living completely different lives.
“Most of the top 1% highest income adults say they are very satisfied with their lives overall, their finances, their housing, their education, and their jobs,” the study said.
“Comparatively, middle- and lower-income adults report greater dissatisfaction than the top 1% in all of these areas,” it added. “Adults in the top 1% also report lower levels of anxiety about the future than middle- and lower-income adults. Few in the top 1% say they experience any major financial worries, and few ever have problems with medical or dental bills or prescription drug costs,” the report said.
Only 8% of those making more than $500,000 had experienced any turmoil in regards to health expenses. That’s compared to 48% of those making $35,000 to $99,000 saying that medical expenses were an issue.
But what may be the most interesting find of the study is that the poor and middle class were almost as likely as the super-rich to say hard work paid off. Around 56% of poor, and 82% of the middle class, said they were either on their way or had “achieved the American dream” as well.
Maybe money isn’t everything, but it seems to be a growing issue for many Americans.