Of all the myths that circulate in Washington, perhaps none is more prevalent or intractable than the one that

says that the United States is a center-right nation – and that majority public opinion lies somewhere between
the views of conservative Democrats and those of less extreme Republicans.
Tis myth has recently been punctured on social issues, as more and more Americans embrace liberal sentiments
on the rights of minorities, women, and gay people. But on economic issues, the notion of America as a center-
right nation holds strong.
Tere is one problem with this view: Poll afer poll shows that a majority of Americans hold populist opinions on
a broad range of economic and political issues—opinions that are ofen far removed from positions held by
elites.
Recent public opinion polling consistently demonstrates that the majority of Americans support the new
populism. Consider:
Americans Understand That the Economy Is Not Working for Everyone
• 57% think, even in 2014, that the U.S. is still in an economic recession.
1
• 73% say they are dissatisfed with the country's economic situation.
2
• 66% believe that over the past few years it has become harder to get ahead fnancially.
3
• 77% think that over the past few years it has become harder to pay for college.
4
• 74% believe that over the past few years it has become harder to fnd good jobs.
5
• 81% are concerned (55% very concerned) that their income is not keeping up with the cost of living.
6
• 70% believe our economy makes it too tough for the middle class to make ends meet.
7
Americans Believe That the Rules Are Rigged
“Te game is rigged and the American people know that. Tey get it right down to their toes.”
— Sen. Elizabeth Warren
A recent exhaustive study by researchers at Princeton and Northwestern universities found that elites got their
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way not just ofen, but virtually all of the time. “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/
or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S.
The Populist Majority is a project of the Campaign for America’s Future that compiles the most recent public opinion
research on economic and political issues, exposing the gulf between American opinion and conventional wisdom.
MEMORANDUM
Derek Pugh June 2014
The American Majority
Is A Populist Majority
PopulistMajority.org
political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get
it.”
9
Warren is right: Americans are increasingly aware that the wealthiest fx the game, and that corporations rig the
rules.
• 85% believe there are diferent rules for the well-connected and people with money.
10
• 64% believe the economic rules in this country unfairly favor the rich.
11
• 71% believe that the government prioritizes helping major corporations over the poor.
12
Americans Believe It Is Time To Clean Out the Political Stables
Americans from all demographic groups are angered that the wealthy use their resources and infuence to
protect their privileges. Tey believe Congress is corrupted as a result. Not surprisingly, voters remain strongly
supportive of policies and eforts that would reduce the infuence of big money in politics.
• 75% believe all politicians are corrupted by campaign donations and lobbyists.
13
• 85% believe most members of Congress are more interested in serving special interest groups than the
people they represent.
14
• 95% believe it is important that our elected leaders reduce the infuence of money and corruption in
political elections.
15
• 97% would support a federal law that imposes tough, new anti-corruption laws for politicians, lobbyists,
and Super PACs.
16
• 79% support limiting the amount of money candidates for the House and Senate can raise and spend on
their campaigns.
17
Americans are troubled by the Supreme Court’s decisions on campaign fnance and fundamentally disagree that
money is equal to speech.
• 80% oppose the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United when given a neutral description of the
case, including 71% who are strongly opposed.
18
• 51% believe the Supreme Court's ruling on McCutcheon will lead to more corruption when given a
neutral description of the case; only 8% say less.
19
• 59% do not think that limiting the amount of money an individual can donate to a single candidate is a
violation of free speech.
20
Americans Believe the Rich and Corporations Aren’t Paying Their Fair Share of Taxes
With the top 1 percent pocketing fully 95 percent of the income growth of the society, and with profts at record
highs and wages at record lows as a percentage of the economy, the majority of Americans believe that
corporations and the wealthy aren't paying their fair share of taxes. Tey are particularly opposed to Congress
giving multinationals incentives to ship jobs or report profts abroad.
• 66% believe corporations pay too little in taxes (only 11% say too much) and 61% of people believe
upper-income people pay too little in taxes (only 8% say too much).
21
2
• 68% want to eliminate the [carried interest] loophole that allows Wall Street hedge fund managers to pay
a lower tax rate than middle-class taxpayers.
22
• 54% favor raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations to expand programs for the poor.
23
• 79% want to close tax loopholes to ensure that American corporations pay as much on foreign profts as
they do on profts made in the U.S.
24
• 73% believe defcit reduction should involve eliminating tax credits and deductions for the wealthy, so
that they pay more in taxes.
25
Americans Support Government Programs That Invest In People
Although Americans remain concerned about federal budget defcits, that isn’t their top priority. Substantial
majorities of the public favor spending directed towards people rather than the national debt.
• 59% prioritize new investments in education and infrastructure over further budget cuts (32%).
26
• 82% support federal and state worker-training programs.
27
• 84% support universal pre-kindergarten for all children.
28
• 79% oppose cutting spending on public education (64% strongly).
29
Americans Support Populist Economic Policies That Build a Strong Economy for Everyone
• 75% favor a government job-creation program to hire one million people.
30
• 73% favor increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.
31
• 60% support another extension of emergency unemployment benefts.
32
• 61% want to see food stamp funding kept the same (33%) or increased (28%).
33
• 55% support expanding Medicaid under Obamacare.
34
Americans Support Public Action on New Energy
• 67% favor spending more government money on developing solar and wind power.
35
• 65% favor setting higher emissions and pollution standards for business and industry.
36
• 73% favor increasing federal funding for alternative energy research.
37
• 71% support increasing government investment to build and repair roads, bridges, high-speed rail, smart
electric grid technology and other infrastructure needs.
38
Americans Strongly Support Protecting Social Security and Medicare
• 87% favor (66% strongly favor) protecting Social Security and Medicare from cuts.
39
• 71% say the benefts from Social Security and Medicare are worth the cost of these programs for
taxpayers.
40
• 69% believe that it is more important to protect Social Security and Medicare than it is to reduce the
defcit, the highest levels since 1995.
41
3
• 84% say Security benefts do not provide enough income for retirees, and 75% believe we should
consider raising future Social Security benefts.
42
• 88% of Democrats and 74% of Republicans agree that “it is critical to preserve Social Security even if it
means increasing Social Security taxes paid by working Americans.”
43
Americans Want to Rein In Wall Street and Banks
• 83% believe that new rules should be implemented and Wall Street should be held accountable for the
actions that caused the fnancial crisis.
44
• 54% think the problems with banks in the 2008 fnancial crisis have not yet been fxed.
45
• 66% believe Wall Street fnancial institutions are making it harder to fnd good-paying jobs in the U.S.
than in the past.
46
• 53% think not enough was done to prosecute bankers; only 15% are satisfed with the efort.
47
Americans Believe in Balanced Trade, Not Corporate Trade Deficits
Although Americans hold positive views on foreign trade, they prefer balanced trade policies as opposed to the
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the Trans-Pacifc Partnership (TPP) and fast-track
authority. Tey believe that the TPP deal would be a boon for large corporations, but would negatively afect
small businesses, undermine environmental and consumer safety, lower American wages and cost the U.S. good
jobs.
• 56% believe the Trans-Pacifc Partnership will make things worse for American salaries and wages.
48
• 52% anticipate that the Trans-Pacifc Partnership deal would make things worse rather than better for
American jobs.
49
• 72% believe the Trans-Pacifc Partnership will help large corporations, while 64% think it will hurt
America’s small businesses.
50
• 63% believe the Trans-Pacifc Partnership will do more harm than good when it comes to the safety of
imported food products.
51
• 48% believe that the TPP deal would make things worse environmentally rather than better (18%).
52
• 54% of voters under 30 feel that the TPP would have an adverse environmental impact.
53
Americans also call on the administration to challenge the currency manipulation of China and other
mercantilist nations. Tey want global rules that protect workers and the environment, creating a foor that lifs
standards up, not a ceiling that drives them down.
• 79% think the U.S. needs to start cracking down on unfairly subsidized imports.
54
• 60% say the U.S. needs to “get tough” with countries like China in order to halt unfair trade practices,
including currency manipulation, which will keep undermining our economy.
55
• 65% consider outsourcing, rather than a potential shortage of skilled workers, as the reason for a lack of
new manufacturing jobs.
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4
Elite Interests vs. Public Priorities
Why are the opinions of the majority so widely misreported or overlooked? Perhaps it is that the emerging
populist attitudes of the Populist Majority contrast starkly with those of American elites.
Te following contrasts elite opinion with that of majority opinion on a range of issues, in a recent survey funded
by the Russell Sage Foundation. Unless otherwise stated, elites are defned as at or near the top 1 percent of
57
U.S. wealth-holders and have an average income of more than $1 million annually. Public opinion was calculated
by averaging polls together from various mainstream frms, such as Gallup and Pew, on a wide range of issues:
 
Spending Priorities
Notes: Each entry is the percentage of respondents that say a given program should be “expanded,” minus the percentage saying it
should be “cut.” “Kept about the same” is treated as neutral and “don’t know” responses were excluded. (a) N=83. Mean wealth=
$14,006,338; median=$7,500,000. (b) Chicago Council on Global Affairs, June 2010. (c) Princeton Survey
Research Associates International for Pew & American Association for the Advancement of Science, June 2009.

Job and Income Programs

Government Spending
Elites in favor of expanding or
cutting (a)
Public in favor of expanding or
cutting
Environmental Protection -8 +29 (b)
Health care -19 +44 (c)
Social Security -33 +46 (c)
% Elite in
Favor
% Public in
Favor
Government must see that no one is without food, clothing or shelter 43% 68%
Minimum wage should be high enough so that no family with a full-time worker
falls below offcial poverty line
40% 78%
The government should provide a decent standard of living for the unemployed 23% 50%
The government in Washington ought to see to it that everyone who wants to work
can fnd a job
19% 68%
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) should be increased rather than decreased
or kept the same
13% 49%
The federal government should provide jobs for everyone willing to work who
cannot fnd a job in private employment
8% 53%
% Elite in
Favor
% Public in
Favor
Favor cuts in spending on domestic programs like Medicare, education, and
highways in order to cut federal budget defcits
58% 27%
The federal government should spend whatever is necessary to ensure that all
children have really good public schools they can go to
35% 87%
5

Progressive Taxation

Health Care and Social Security

Trade
Notes: All percentages on trade come from the Pew Research Center in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). (a) CFR
members include government offcials, scholars, business executives, journalists, lawyers and nonproft professionals in the feld of
international affairs: N=1,838. November 2013. (b) N=2,003. November 2013.

It Takes a Movement
We live in a populist moment. Te populist debate has only just begun, and as long as this economy is not
working for working people, majority support for the new populism is likely to build, not dissipate. Politicians in
both parties are likely to fnd it necessary to appeal to those attitudes, not scorn them.
The federal government should make sure that everyone who wants to go to
college can do so
28% 78%
The federal government should invest more in worker retraining and education to
help workers adapt to changes in the economy
30% 57%
% Elite in
Favor
% Public in
Favor
Our government should redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich 17% 52%
Responsibility of the government to reduce the differences in income between
people with high incomes and those with low incomes
13% 46%
% Elite in
Favor
% Public in
Favor
Cutting Social Security 33% 10%
Willing to pay more taxes in order to provide health coverage for everyone 41% 59%
Favor national health insurance, which would be fnanced by tax money, paying for
most forms of health care
32% 61%
% Foreign
Policy Elite
in Favor (a)
% Public in
Favor (b)
The government’s top policy priority should be protecting the jobs of American
workers
29% 81%
More U.S. companies setting up operations overseas 73% 23%
Approve of trade relations with China 69% 30%
6
NBC News, Wall Street Journal Survey, March 5-9, 2014. Retrieved from http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/A_U.S.%20news/US-
1
news-PDFs/14133%20MARCH%20NBC-WSJ%20Poll%20%283-12%20Release%29.pdf.
Washington Post-Miller Center Poll, September 6-12, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/
2
2013/09/28/National-Politics/Polling/release_266.xml.
Ibid.
3
Ibid.
4
Ibid.
5
The New York Times, CBS News Poll, February 19-23, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/02/26/us/political-parties-
6
poll.html?_r=1.
The George Washington Battleground Poll, March 16-20, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.tarrance.com/docs/BG54charts.pdf.
7
Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” !"#$%"&'("$ *+ !*,-'&$ (Fall
8
2014), retrieved from http://www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/Gilens%20homepage%20materials/Gilens%20and%20Page/Gilens%20and%20Page%202014-
Testing%20Theories%203-7-14.pdf
Ibid., p.23.
9
McClatchy News Service, The Marist Poll, February 4-9, 2014. Retrieved from https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1016979/
10
mcclatchy-marist-poll-economic-mobility-nature.pdf#storylink=relast
The George Washington Battleground Poll, March 16-20, 2014.
11
YouGov Poll, February 6-7, 2014. Retrieved from http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/7dnvcbki2w/
12
tabs_HP_one_percent_20140210.pdf.
Reason-Rupe Poll, March 26-30, 2014. Retrieved from http://reason.com/poll/2014/04/03/april-2014-national-telephone-survey.
13
The New York Times, CBS News Poll, April 24-28, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/138952056/Apr13b-Wed-PM.
14
MFour Market Research, Tulchin Research Survey, November 12-17, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.texansunitedtoamend.org/uploads/
15
5/0/8/1/5081028/representus_analysis.pdf.
Ibid.
16
Gallup Poll, June 15-16, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/163208/half-support-publicly-fnanced-federal-campaigns.aspx
17
Democracy Corps Poll, April 16-24, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.democracycorps.com/attachments/article/979/DCorps%20SCOTUS%20Memo
18
%20FINAL%20050614.pdf?utm_source=DCorps+General+List&utm_campaign=821521ed0d-April+BG+ACA+release
+4.28.14&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_53ed41ca00-821521ed0d-40421701.
Ibid.
19
YouGov Poll, April 3-4, 2014. Retrieved from http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/vjq77o8ddf/
20
tabs_Combined_campaign_fnance_20140404.pdf .
Gallup Poll, April 4-7, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/161780/fewer-americans-view-income-taxes-fair.aspx.
21
Ibid.
22
Pew Research Center, USA Today National Survey, January 15-19, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.people-press.org/2014/01/23/most-see-inequality-
23
growing-but-partisans-differ-over-solutions/.
Americans for Tax Fairness Poll, October 25-30, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.americansfortaxfairness.org/fles/ATF-Oct-2013-Poll-Hart-Memo-
24
Public.pdf.
Ibid.
25
America Votes Poll, January 13-23, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.americavotes.org/sites/default/fles/America%20Votes%20State%20Messaging
26
%20FINAL.pdf.
Alliance for American Manufacturing Poll, January 6-9, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.americanmanufacturing.org/2014poll/.
27
Center for American Progress and Half in Ten Education Fund, “50 Years After LBJ's War on Poverty: A Study of American Attitudes About Work,
28
Economic Opportunity, and the Social Safety Net,” (2014), retrieved from http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/WOP-
PollReport2.pdf.
Americans for Tax Fairness Poll, October 25-30, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.americansfortaxfairness.org/fles/ATF-Oct-2013-Poll-Hart-Memo-
29
Public.pdf.
Gallup Poll, March 2-5, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/161438/americans-widely-back-government-job-creation-proposals.aspx.
30
Pew Research Center, USA Today National Survey, January 15-19, 2014.
31
Washington Post, ABC News Poll, January 20-23, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/
32
2014/01/26/National-Politics/Polling/release_289.xml.
7
1825 K Street NW • Suite 400 • Washington DC 20006 • 202 955-5665
YouGov Poll, January 27-28, 2014. Retrieved from http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/m7yby31hqd/
33
tabs_OPI_farm_bill_20140129.pdf .
America Votes Poll, January 13-23, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.americavotes.org/sites/default/fles/America%20Votes%20State%20Messaging
34
%20FINAL.pdf.
Gallup Poll, March 6-9, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/168017/americans-again-pick-environment-economic-growth.aspx?
35
utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_content=morelink&utm_term=All%20Gallup%20Headlines.
Ibid.
36
Pew Research Center, “What Energy Boom? Half Unaware of Rise in U.S. Production” (2013), retrieved from http://www.people-press.org/fles/legacy-
37
pdf/9-26-13%20Energy%20Release.pdf.
Alliance for American Manufacturing Poll, January 6-9, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.americanmanufacturing.org/2014poll/.
38
Democracy Corps, Voter Participation Center National Survey, March 19-23, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/r/2010-2019/
39
WashingtonPost/2014/04/07/Editorial-Opinion/Graphics/womens-economic-agenda.pdf
The New York Times, CBS News Poll, February 19-23, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/02/26/us/political-parties-
40
poll.html?_r=1
Pew Research Center Survey, December 3-8, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.people-press.org/fles/legacy-questionnaires/12-19-13%20Defcit
41
%20topline%20for%20release.pdf
Jasmine V. Tucker, Virginia P. Reno, and Thomas N. Bethell, “Strengthening Social Security: What Do Americans Want?,” National Academy of Social
42
Insurance (2013), retrieved from http://www.nasi.org/sites/default/fles/research/What_Do_Americans_Want.pdf.
Ibid.
43
Center for Responsible Lending, Americans for Financial Reform Poll, July 8-11, 2013. Retrieved from http://ourfnancialsecurity.org/blogs/wp-content/
44
ourfnancialsecurity.org/uploads/2013/07/Lake-Poll-Slides.pdf.
The Economist, YouGov Poll, March 29-31, 2014. Retrieved from http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/q8it6hqq23/
45
econTabReport.pdf.
Washington Post-Miller Center Poll, September 6-12, 2013.
46
Reuters, Ipsos Poll, September 6-10, 2014. Retrieved from http://pdf.reuters.com/pdfnews/pdfnews.asp?
47
i=43059c3bf0e37541&u=2013_09_13_07_58_5977dfed71b041889f40e2ed4795f7dd_PRIMARY.png
Communication Workers of America, Sierra Club, U.S. Business and Industry Council Survey, January 14-18, 2014. Retrieved from http://
48
fasttrackpoll.info/docs/Fast-Track-Survey_Memo.pdf.
Ibid.
49
Ibid.
50
Ibid.
51
Ibid.
52
Ibid.
53
Alliance for American Manufacturing, January 6-9, 2014.
54
Ibid.
55
Ibid.
56
Benjamin I. Page, Larry M. Bartels, and Jason Seawright, “Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans, .!"#$%"&'("$ *+ !*,-'&$ 11:1,
57
pp. 51-73, retrieved from http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~jnd260/cab/CAB2012%20-%20Page1.pdf.
8