7 Out of 10 Americans Agree That Economy is Rigged Against Them
A recently published Marketplace-Edison Research poll found that a full 71 percent of respondents agree that the U.S. economy is rigged, affirming the popular rhetoric of the current presidential campaign season.
The majority opinion held firm across ethnicity, class, age, and gender differences. A whopping 83 percent of African Americans polled agreed that the economy is rigged, and 80 percent of people ages 18-24 also held that opinion.
The poll, which has been tracking rising economic anxiety, discovered that most Americans agree that the economy was better for their parents’ generation, and believe that the economy will be worse for the next generation.
Perhaps the perception of a rigged economy is because people are working harder for increasingly less financial security. The poll found that nearly one-quarter of respondents hadn’t taken a single vacation for over five years, while nearly 50 percent also confirmed fearing that they might lose their job within the next 12 months.
Moreover, 71 percent said they were afraid of an unexpected medical bill and 53 percent feared being unable to make a mortgage payment. Of renters, 60 percent fear being unable to pay rent.
Nearly one-third told the pollsters that they are losing sleep over their financial situation.
Meanwhile, the poll fond that Wall Street and banks are viewed in an unfavorable light: nearly 60 percent agreed that Wall Street does more to hurt than help the majority of Americans, and 56 percent agreed that the U.S. government should break up banks deemed “too big to fail.”
A majority of 54 percent also felt that the decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs was a result of so-called “free trade” deals, rather than “natural changes in the economy,” as the poll put it.
The poll’s questions were familiar to many of those following this year’s presidential election, as presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders made the phrase “rigged economy” and his critique of trade deals into touchstones of his campaign (see here and here.) Following the success of Sanders’ outsider campaign, current front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have both co-opted Sanders’ language in an attempt to woo his supporters.
“It’s not just the political system that’s rigged, it’s the whole economy,” Trump said during a speech last month, while Clinton told a crowd, “to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top, we have got to go big and we have got to go bold”.
Yet their rhetoric appears to be falling flat: the Marketplace-Edison Research poll found a plurality of the respondents are also “not satisfied at all” with the two top presidential contenders.
Pundits have drawn connections between “a deep frustration on the part of working-class voters with economic globalization schemes”, as John Nichols put it, and the recent Brexit vote — provoking some to wonder if a similar shock may eventually strike the U.S. establishment, if today’s economic woes go unheeded.