Poll: Majority of Americans want government to reduce income gap
February 5th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
11 months ago

Poll: Majority of Americans want government to reduce income gap

(CNN) – A majority of Americans surveyed believe the government should work to reduce the income gap between rich and the poor, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey released Wednesday indicates more than six in 10 Americans strongly or somewhat agree that the government should work to narrow that gap, compared to 30% who believe it should not.

"That sentiment may put Republicans in a difficult position, because nearly seven in 10 of those surveyed believe GOP policies favor the rich compared to the 30% of respondents who said Democratic policies benefit the wealthy," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The results come after President Barack Obama made a major push in his State of the Union address last week for policies curbing income inequality.

The White House has billed 2014 as a 'Year of Action' and efforts to stem the widening gap between the rich and poor has become a cornerstone of the administration's agenda.

Opinion on the income gap appears to have changed little since the Reagan era. In 1983, 68% of Americans favored government action to narrow the divide. Today, that number stands at 66%.

Most Republicans oppose such measures, and nine in 10 Democrats favor them. Among independents, two-thirds believe the government should work to reduce the income gap.

Higher income earners agree. Fifty-seven percent of Americans who earn more than $100,000 a year said the government should help decrease the income inequality.

There is a gender gap on this issue as well, with women, at 70%, slightly more likely to favor measures to reduce the gap than men, at 62%.

The CNN survey was conducted by ORC International from January 31 to February 2, with 1,010 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Filed under: CNN/ORC International poll • Economy
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. betterdays

    I'm on a mobile device and I don't see a link to the poll. Were people asked if they wanted the government to take money from the wealthiest people and give it to everyone else? Or was the question phrased differently?

    February 5, 2014 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  2. uncommon sense

    The world laughs as we tied " freedom of speech " to campaign donations. Its about to get worse, the writings on the wall. The rich will have all barriers designed to curb corruption repealed, and the rich will pass laws to increase inequality until the system collapses. People can't live on full time work now, and any attempt to change that makes them spend more fighting for control. With all obstacles removed, its going yo be a really crappy place to live, 20 years tops.

    February 5, 2014 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  3. uncommon sense

    Again, exactly two kinds of people vote gop, rich, and stupid!

    February 5, 2014 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  4. uncommon sense

    Rich people think their rich because their smart, I'm not saying their dumb, only there is much more to it than that. I work with the owner, old money guy, great guy to work for, not always so. He thinks if your smart you should be rich, if not, your lazy, he was born into it, and frankly I'm somewhat amazed we are still here. Not everyone is driven to obtain wealth, what you see now is a sick addiction to money, and some are driven to corrupt the system, now we have policy based on the mentally of the few.

    February 5, 2014 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  5. xray vision

    There will be riots on the street, and that's when you'll lose your guns, another gift from George. The world watches in amazement as we feed the rich while children starve.

    February 5, 2014 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  6. xray vision

    Why not post a % of Republicans who don't agree, not most, all, that's why. This is your opportunity to see the gop for what it truly is, an extension of the very rich.

    February 5, 2014 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  7. @RI_Roger

    The majority of Americans are not well informed and want something for nothing. personal responsibility and determination will lift you out of poverty. Government handouts will only widen the gap. Middle and upper income people create jobs and opportunity for all people wanting to make something of themselves. The government will only promise you what they don't have and will need to take it from those who do have. When that well runs out (...and it will) we all will be in the lower income class and Mexico and Brazil will be where the upper class resides.

    February 5, 2014 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  8. Minnie Mouse

    This would require the government and states to change it's rules for all people who are on state and federal aid. Over half the population of our country are of some form of aid. Everyone would have to go to work full time and get a college education or a skill in some form to where they can land a job that's paid higher than the low minimum wages. The low minimum wages need to also be raised. "You must work 20 hours" to receive benefits will have to be obsolete. If anyone can physically work 20 hours, they can also physically work 40 hours and if you don't have an education then you can get an education. People who are low or little to now income, you get pretty much "FREE COLLEGE" through "PELL GRANTS", which most people who want to go to college who are working can't get the help needed to go because the income is to high for assistance. We can't blame the government for everything and especially your own personal financial situation. The only person who can make things better is yourself. It's called through many years of hard work and continuously and education. For women, right on we all deserve equal pay as men and especially in the same job field. That's a huge issue that needs to be fixed!!

    February 5, 2014 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  9. Tampa Tim

    Our worthless republican house has pretty much decided they do not care what the majority of Americans want. Wingnuts in government have taken it among themselves to no longer represent the people they took an oath to serve.

    February 5, 2014 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  10. Marie MD

    It's probably too late. One percent of the population controls 85% of the money in this country.
    NYC Mayor de Blasio stated on the Daily Show that he's increasing taxes for anyone making over half a million dollars. It comes to one cold latte (whatever) a day.
    It's about $2K a year in taxes for the rich. Some people don't make that a month, heck in two months.
    Money is mostly at the root of all marriage problems. Why not the country?

    February 5, 2014 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  11. xray vision

    And two men will make unheard of money as soon ad the keystone gets signed, with zero benefits for our country, zero! The jobs numbers are fake, the risk real, yet here we go. This cannot reduce our energy dependency, its not our oil, not ours to buy or sell. We get the pollution from their refinery, the ruined earth from the inevitable spill. They have successfully limited their liability, and they weren't to concerned before that, its not their property being decimated. And a 2 billion dollar cap on their liability makes one wonder how responsible they will be, history is not on our side.

    February 5, 2014 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  12. Steven

    The problem is the bleeding heart liberals who are stirring the pot making things worst in America, if those who want the government to help close the gap between the rich and the poor should get better educated so they can try for better jobs instead of looking for had outs from the government.
    That is the problem with people in America today, there are more and more who want hand outs instead of working for what they want, but that is what they are taught in public schools now.

    February 5, 2014 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  13. Tampa Tim

    The lawless house republicans fail to uphold their oath, and like petty little dictators, focus on denying women's rights. Sharia Law is alive in the republican house and red states.

    February 5, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  14. Jerry

    income inequality is more of a problem how people expense like price paying to take car to get repaired. Paying 100 dallors an hour to get estimate what wrong with car is crazy. Mechanic should be trained to know or have access to techicle imfo,people generlly being ripped off because service provider knows person simply can be told anything . Real issues is every ones doing it so who can we trust,shark fest

    February 5, 2014 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  15. Gurgyl

    Greed is so rampant. Firing people for late coming, paying no bonuses for Christmas etc, not raising pay etc can be seen in all places. When this occurs, civil wars, income inequality prevail. Society becomes lawless. Rich need to understand this main cause. Yes, USA needs living minimum wage raise now. It is very very low. Please stop using self-check-outs. It removes employees. Wake up.

    February 5, 2014 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  16. smith

    Robin hood politics by Obama. Since the begining of time there has always been the have`s and the have nots.The driving force of our economy is to climb the ladder to make more money because lazy people refuse to do that, people who choose to should not be punished. Half of the US population has become a bunch of lazy crybabies.

    February 5, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  17. king

    lesson folks, we live in a capitalistic america, that means supply and demand. if the money keeps at the top and never come down to the demanders, we can shove that capitalistic america out the window. the repubs policies of cutting average joe spending money and expect the big boys to invest in america, over china needs to wake up from their slumber. because that dont look like capitalism to me. money is suppose to go up with american spending, which it is. but because of global economy the money is not coming down back in jobs, but going sideways into china who has 4 times more spenders than we have. the supply and demand capitalism of america has been broken by the repubs, and because they are supported by big corporations to fool the american people, they are not only getting away with it. they are being awarded with more seat in congress by the gullible of our country. what will we do in another 20 years when the world is fully globalized. our middle class will seize to exist, just to just to compete for american companies jobs. then youll really see the rich and poor separate. at least Obama and the dems are fighting like hell to stop this catastrophe. and the repubs are fighting like hell on the big boys side, shouting liberty, freedom, and employers to take liberty on how they treat the american people. YAH forbid if the employees get such liberty, which the repubs will shout and demonstrate like hell. that workers are getting what they want from employers. they've already killed the unions of workers liberty, let me see how much more liberty they will kill, while they shout Obama is trying to take our liberty..

    February 5, 2014 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  18. Greg In Arkansas

    Part of the problem with the "income gap" can be attributed to the "information gap" of the American voters.
    The GOP complains that there are TOO many at the bottom of the income scale that pay NO taxes and get a "free ride"...yet.....The NFL is classed as a "trade association" that promotes the interests of its clubs, therefore, the NFL is a listed as a nonprofit organization and pays NO taxes.......can someone please explain.....???

    February 5, 2014 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  19. JC Copeland

    Just exactly how should the government reduce the gap between the wealthy and the not wealthy. 9 out of 10 Democrats favor this but I see no answers. Should we post signs on billboards that read "No free enterprise allowed? Should the IRS automatically penalize anyone who makes over $100K a year? Should we become a Communist State where the government controls the $$ and we each get an allotment? Wake up and look around at "Obamacare" we are already there. When our government decides to reduce the incentive each American has to succeed in this country maybe it is time to move to Switzerland where all one has to do to protest is learn to yodel

    February 5, 2014 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  20. Reuben James

    What else can they give away. Probably not much just more of it

    February 5, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  21. mucklucky

    This income inequality is wrong! People start becoming unequal when one person studies hard in school and makes straight As then another person doesn't crack a book and passes on Cs (or Ds). The straight A person goes to college, graduates and becomes a productive member of society while the person who maybe finished high school (or dropped out) works as a common laborer. There is no justification for these 2 different people to have even close to the same income. One has put forth effort to better their life and the other has not put forth any effort.

    February 5, 2014 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  22. scmtns

    Poll: Majority of Americans want Communism.

    To each according to his needs, from each according to his means.

    February 5, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  23. rs

    Unfortunately, the "majority of Americans" have discovered too late in falling for the GOP's "jobs, jobs, jobs" line in the last election cycle that the GOP only takes care of the 1%- and they've done that job very well since the time of President Reagan: ongoing tax cuts for the rich, lower tax rates on investors, no tax rates at all for half of the corporations in America, ongoing larded "incentives" to big oil, corporate farms and so on. We now have the greatest number of millionaires and billionaires than at any time in American history. We have the greatest wage inequality ever (with corporate heads making 475 times that of their lowest paid full-time employees).

    Be clear: if you're rich, the GOP has your back. If you're poor or middle class, your income is being redistributed to the very wealthy through inequitable tax rates, and cuts in services. The GOP isn't simply looking to cut Social Security, food assistance and Medicare- oh, no. By bankrupting the treasury with useless wars and the aforementioned tax cuts, they are ensuring government no longer meets our needs. Our streets are cracked and filled with holes; no new freeways (or worse- "private freeways"); no bridge inspections; no new airports or rail infrastructure. Our Education system is without sufficient funding. The GOP is even against equitable health care for the poor.

    America- you fell for their jobs lies, you got sucked in on their various social cultural warrior nonsense (still believe they are the "party of life", or even for a democracy?). Vote Republican, and you vote against your own self-interest.

    February 5, 2014 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  24. Fair is Fair

    And exactly what do these people think the government can do to close the gap, besides punitive tax rates on successful people?

    February 5, 2014 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  25. Name Manuel J. Placencia

    Give middle class tax breaks that were taken away and take away unnecessary tax breaks from wealthy.Lower gasoline prices to between $1 to $2 Lower food prices so people can afford to buy better products.Tax stock market transactions.01 per transactions and use money for food stamps health care social security veterans benefits.School lunches for kids.Use it to repair bridges highways.Take away corporate welfare.

    February 5, 2014 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
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