It became a recurring question in the 2016 presidential campaigns in both parties: Is the US economic system fair to most Americans, or is it âriggedâ to favor the rich and powerful?
A substantial majority of Americans – 65% – say that the country’s economic system “unfairly favors powerful interests.” Less than half (31%) say the system “is generally fair to most Americans.”
There are notable differences on this issue between – and within – the two political parties. Overall, Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents are more likely than Republicans and Republicans to view the economic system as unfair (73% vs. 54%).
The ideological divide is even more marked. Conservative Republicans are divided over the fairness of the economic system: 50% say the system favors the powerful, while about as many (47%) say it is fair. In contrast, 82% of Liberal Democrats say that the country’s economic system favors powerful interests. A thin 15% think that is fair for the most part.
The economic differences within parties are striking. Skinny Republicans and Republicans with family incomes of $ 100,000 or more are more likely than any other income group in either party to say the system is fair to most Americans: 60% of Republicans with incomes of at least $ 100,000 express this view, compared with no more than about four in ten Republicans in the lower income categories.
Among Democrats, the trend is reversed. High-income Democrats and Skinny Democrats are the most likely to say that this country’s economic system unfairly favors powerful interests: 82% of Democrats with family incomes of $ 100,000 or more say this; only 17% say the system is generally fair to “most Americans”.
On the flip side, Democrats and skinny people earning less than $ 30,000 a year are somewhat more likely than those in higher income brackets to say that the system is generally fair for most Americans: nearly three in ten (29%) think so.
Hannah fingerhut is a former research analyst specializing in US politics and politics at the Pew Research Center.