A new Pew Research Center survey shows most Americans believe President Barack Obama’s two terms in office have favored the rich, and have not benefited the middle class or the poor.
Those negative attitudes are justified by much negative economic data, and could help GOP candidates in 2015 and 2016 who offer a populist criticism of “crony capitalism.”
The data may also nudge the Democrats’ 2016 candidate to run a populist anti-government campaign, despite Obama’s eight-year tenure.
Sixty-six percent of Pew’s 1,504 respondents say “government economic policies since the recession have helped” wealthy people a “great deal” or a “fair amount.” Only 29 percent said the wealthy were helped “not too much/not at all.”
In contrast, only 26 percent of respondents said middle-class people were helped a great deal or a fair amount.
Seven-two percent of respondents said the middle-class people were helped “not too much/not at all,” according to the Pew survey, which was released March 4.
Thirty-two percent said poor people were helped, while 65 percent said they were not helped.
There’s plenty of outside data to support the sour view. The median household income in January 2015 was $54,332, which is 3.9 percent lower than January 2000, 15 years prior, according to a March 4 report by Sentier Research.
The median number is the mid-point in the income scale. Half of the people earned above the number, and half earned below that number.
Americans’ stalled income comes after both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama stoked economic growth — but not wages — with waves of new lower-skilled immigrants.
In the race for the GOP presidential nomination, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is proposing a turbo-charged version of that growth-via-immigration strategy. He’s calling for a wave of foreign university-trained immigrants to double economic growth up to 4 percent per year.
According to Pew, 47 percent of Americans say they’re middle class. Another 10 percent describe themselves as upper middle class, while 29 percent describe themselves as lower middle class.
Generally, Republicans and swing-voting independents are optimistic about the future, with 78 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of independents saying that “most can get ahead if willing to work hard.” That attitude is echoed by lower-income Democrats.