What Americans Want
by The Opportunity Agenda, Tue Jul 06, 2010 at 12:16:02 PM EDT
Americans are known, for better of for worse, for their strong support of “capitalism” and hesitancy towards “socialism.” A recent poll by Pew Research Center confirmed this notion, although perhaps not with the intensity one would expect. When asked what their first reaction to the word “socialism” was, 59% gave a negative response and only 29% responded positively. Their reaction to the word capitalism was exactly the opposite, 52% gave a positive response, and 37% responded negatively.
How does this translate into what Americans want from the government now? Another poll by Pew Research Center asked how much a certain solution, such as cutting taxes or additional government spending, would help to improve the current job situation. Additional spending on roads, bridges, and other public works projects scored the highest with 37% of respondents agreeing that it would “help a lot.” On the flip side, 29% asserted that cutting personal income taxes would “not help at all.” This seems rather contradictory to what capitalism would dictate to do in an economic recovery.
Especially when it comes to fixing the economy, Americans want more government involvement rather than less. According to a recent nationwide poll conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Center for Community Change and the Ms. Foundation for Women, "A majority thinks it is time for the government to take a larger and stronger role in making the economy work for the average American." To be more precise 52% of Americans believed this statement, and this percentage was even higher among groups that were hardest hit by the economy, such as Latinas (68%), African-American women (66%), low-income women (63%) and single moms (63%).
When it comes to everyday life and taking care of your family, stability and security are important. Americans say that both economic security (62%) and economic stability (63%) are more important to them than economic opportunity (35%). And they believe that the government can and should play a significant role in this, 69% believes that the economy can be influenced by government actions. When framed as what would most likely help get the economy back on track, jobs with decent wages and benefits and more affordable education and training opportunities top the list.
I guess the title of the Pew Research poll sums it ups the best, "socialism not so negative, capitalism not so positive."
For more public opinion research from The Opportunity Agenda, visit here.