Poll: Democratic voters prefer higher taxes on rich to increased subsidies for middle-class

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With economic inequality increasingly becoming the focal point of the Democratic presidential nomination race, the party's voters are more in favor of raising taxes on wealthy people than increasing government subsidies to middle- and lower-income people, according to a poll released Friday. Forty percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters said they preferred tax increases on high-income people while just 12 percent said the people with lower incomes should receive government subsidies. Forty-two percent said they wanted both options pursued while just 6 percent said that none of them should be. Independent voters also overwhelmingly favored economic redistribution with 78 percent wanting increased taxes or subsidies and only 22 percent opposing both. Like Democrats, independents were more interested in raising taxes on rich people than on increasing payments to lower- and middle-income people. Thirty-nine percent said they preferred tax increases, 9 percent said they wanted subsidies and 30 percent said they wanted both. Only 22 percent said that neither. Perhaps surprisingly, a majority of Republican voters also favored redistributive action. Forty percent said they wanted neither increased taxes or payments while 60 percent said they wanted one, the other, or both. As with independents and Democrats, GOP voters leaned more toward increased taxes on rich people than toward subsidies. Thirty percent of Republican respondents wanted tax hikes while 9 percent wanted social payments. Twenty percent said they wanted both. Across the entire sample, 36 percent of all respondents favored tax increases on wealthy people, 10 percent wanted subsidies for middle-income people, 31 percent wanted both and 22 percent wanted neither. Public support for economic redistribution has increased in recent years, likely in response to increased concern about wealth inequality. According to Gallup, in 1988, 71 percent of Americans said they believed the country was not divided between "haves" and "have-nots." That number decreased to 54 percent by 2015. Democratic voters' opinions about America's economic system have been particularly pronounced in recent years. In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, 71 percent of adults who leaned toward Democrats said they believed the U.S. economy favors powerful interests over most Americans. That number had increased to 82 percent by 2017. The longer-term trend among Democratic voters is even more pronounced. According to Pew, in 1994, 65 percent of Democrats believed that people who work hard could get ahead economically. In 2017, just 49 percent believed this. Democratic politicians have completely embraced their voters' new attitudes, according to Vanessa Williamson, a fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. "I think we've seen a real shift in what Democrats are willing to say about economic inequality. And partly that's a Bernie Sanders effect in 2016 and partly it's Elizabeth Warren but there's been a lot of movement on this issue," she said. Where Republican voters fall on economic fairness questions is more complex. GOP-leaning adults' views of the value of hard work in determining success have not shifted in Pew's data. In 1994, 73 percent said that people who work hard can get ahead, slightly lower than the 77 percent who said the same in 2017. While Republicans overall have more confidence in the fairness of the U.S. economic system, recent polling suggests that the GOP's voters are also more economically progressive than their leaders. In a February Hill-HarrisX survey, 65 percent of registered voters who favor Republicans said they supported an annual wealth tax similar to one proposed recently by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.). A January Hill-HarrisX poll found that almost half of the GOP's voters approved of taxing income in excess of $10 million at over 70 percent. Despite their voters' apparent desire to have wealthy people pay more in taxes, Republican politicians will likely be able to forestall such

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