The talk over the facility of billionaires in America is pushed by critics who see them as rapacious tax-cheats and by defenders who see them as embodiments of the American Dream.
However what do common individuals suppose?
A brand new, unique ballot from Vox and Data for Progress pulls again the curtain on how Individuals really feel in regards to the exploding web value of billionaires in the course of the pandemic; their record-setting philanthropy as a technique to handle inequality; and whether or not they have an excessive amount of political energy in American elections. The ballot was fielded In February and surveyed doubtless voters.
The info counsel that gone are the times when the ultra-wealthy might rely on widespread admiration as job-creators, titans of business, and “thought leaders.” They now confront a skeptical public, formed partially by a 12 months of the coronavirus pandemic that has entrenched their energy.
On the similar time, Individuals reject lots of the furthest-left critiques of billionaires and their affect in American life. You possibly can read the full results here, and listed here are among the highlights.
How Individuals really feel about billionaires in the course of the pandemic
The pandemic has exacerbated wealth inequality, and plenty of Individuals are resentful of the truth that whereas they struggled, the rich made vital features.
By a large hole — 72 p.c to 19 p.c — voters polled say it was unfair that billionaires bought wealthier in the course of the pandemic. That conclusion is shared throughout all racial, partisan, socioeconomic, and different demographic teams.
This unease is mirrored in questions that talk to Individuals’ extra generalized opinions in regards to the one-percent, which have been typically shared throughout the political spectrum. Solely 23 p.c of these polled stated they take into account billionaires to be good position fashions for the nation, and 65 p.c stated they don’t.
Equally, solely 36 p.c stated that they had, on the whole, optimistic emotions about billionaires, versus 49 p.c who stated they didn’t. Black Individuals stated that they had rather more optimistic emotions about billionaires than did members of different racial subgroups: 45 p.c stated they felt positively, with solely 39 p.c saying they felt negatively. Democrats have been additionally extra prone to be anti-billionaire than have been Republicans.
And but Individuals are broadly dismissive of some progressive rhetoric about one thing being essentially flawed with a society that options billionaires. Some 82 p.c they agree with the assertion that folks ought to be allowed to turn out to be billionaires — and equally, 68 p.c say they disagree that it’s immoral for a society to permit individuals to turn out to be billionaires.
How Individuals really feel about billionaire philanthropy
Voters give billionaires optimistic marks relating to their philanthropy. Requested whether or not billionaires do a great job at gifting away their cash by way of philanthropy. 47 p.c say they agree. Solely 33 p.c say they don’t.
And but, they don’t suppose philanthropy is a adequate answer to fixing Individuals’ inequality issues. When requested about which is a greater answer to resolve the nation’s issues in the course of the pandemic — to lift taxes or to hunt extra charity from the rich —52 p.c select the previous and 38 p.c say the latter.
How Individuals really feel about Invoice Gatses, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg
4 tech billionaires have turn out to be among the world’s most influential individuals in the course of the pandemic, at middle stage in America like by no means earlier than. Vox requested voters how they felt about these more and more unavoidable figures.
Elon Musk is the most well-liked of the tech billionaires polled, with 50 p.c saying that they had a positive opinion of the Tesla founder and presently the world’s second richest individual. Musk is a bipartisan determine: 52 p.c of Democrats have a positive opinion (versus 22 p.c unfavorable) and 48 p.c of Republicans (versus 25 p.c unfavorable.) Musk is very widespread with males: A staggering 66 p.c of males view him favorably (versus 21 p.c unfavorably).
Invoice Gates, who has performed a quasi-governmental position in the course of the pandemic from his perch and his eponymous basis, is also seen very favorably within the throes of the disaster with 55 p.c of respondents saying they felt that manner, versus 35 p.c who felt otherwise. Gates is very widespread with Democrats, who’re followers of his by a 55-percentage level margin.
Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, who’re each lightning rods in their very own methods, are much less widespread figures. Nearly as many individuals view Bezos unfavorably as view him favorably. And Zuckerberg himself is below water by a major margin; 54 p.c say they’ve an unfavorable opinion, together with 64 p.c of Republicans.
How Individuals really feel about billionaires’ political energy
What unites Individuals is a perception that billionaires have an excessive amount of affect within the political system. Of these polled, 61 p.c say they really feel that these ultra-wealthy individuals had an excessive amount of affect within the 2020 election (62 p.c of Republicans agreed with this assertion, as did 55 p.c of Democrats).
Whether or not Joe Biden himself was too near this billionaire class, predictably, is determined by your partisanship. Solely 20 p.c of Democats say that’s the case. However 72 p.c of Republicans say so.
Nonetheless, regardless of caring about these billionaires’ energy, American voters don’t suppose they pose any kind of existential threat. Requested if billionaires are a risk to democracy, solely 28 p.c stated they agreed, whereas 54 p.c stated they disagreed.