By Karlyn Bowman, AEI
As the “summer of the political outsider” becomes fall, the October issue of AEI’s Political Report breaks down public opinion on insider versus outsider presidential candidates. Marking seven years since the financial crash, this issue also assesses people’s views about the economy, the stability of the financial system, and their personal financial situations. The final section of this report features polls on income inequality.
Insiders and outsiders
- Political experience: In 1987, 35 percent said they would rather support a presidential candidate whose political experience was mostly outside of Washington. This spring, 56 percent gave that response (CBS News/The New York Times). In a new Quinnipiac poll, 48 percent of registered voters said experience as a Washington outsider would better help a candidate serve effectively as president, while 46 percent said experience in Washington would be better.
- Party differences: In the September Quinnipiac poll, 72 percent of registered Republican voters, compared to only 15 percent of registered Democratic voters, said experience as a Washington outsider would better help a candidate serve effectively as president.
The economy, seven years later
- Is the economy stronger? In April 2010, 55 percent of registered voters said the country was in a recession. This summer, 22 percent gave that response, while 37 percent described the current economic situation as a downturn but not a recession (Fox News). Only 34 percent say the economic system is more secure today than it was in 2008; 63 percent do not think it is (Pew).
- Your personal finances: Forty-three percent say their personal financial situation is in excellent or good shape, an improvement since the recession, though still not back to prerecession levels (Pew). In a February Pew poll, 30 percent said the recession had a major effect on their personal financial situation and that they had not yet recovered. About the same number said the recession had a major effect on their finances, but they had mostly recovered.
- Is the deck stacked? Consistent with responses over time, 64 percent say it is still possible to start out poor in this country, work hard, and become rich; a third say it is not still possible (CBS News/The New York Times). In a separate question, 61 percent say in today’s economy it is mainly just a few people at the top who have a chance to get ahead. Thirty-five percent say everyone has a fair chance in the long run (CBS News/The New York Times).
- Haves and Have-nots: Since 1984, pollsters have asked if America is divided into two groups, the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Now 54 percent say America is not divided into these two groups, and 45 percent say America is divided this way (Gallup). Fifty-eight percent consider themselves a “have” and 38 percent a “have-not,” though responses vary by race and income (Gallup).
This page was updated with the full issue of Political Report on September 27, 2015, following the advance release of the section on insiders and outsiders.
Karlyn Bowman compiles and analyzes American public opinion using available polling data on a variety of subjects, including the economy, taxes, the state of workers in America, environment and global warming, attitudes about homosexuality and gay marriage, NAFTA and free trade, the war in Iraq, and women’s attitudes. In addition, Ms. Bowman has studied and spoken about the evolution of American politics because of key demographic and geographic changes. She has often lectured on the role of think tanks in the United States and writes a weekly column for Forbes.com.