AP-NORC Poll: Democrats big on market regulation, inequality

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Posted: Feb 22, 2016 3:50 AM
AP-NORC Poll: Democrats big on market regulation, inequality

WASHINGTON (AP) — A large majority of Democrats call income inequality a very important issue, and half of them think regulation of financial markets after the 2008 financial crisis did not go far enough, according to a new poll suggesting that many in the party are receptive to economic issues championed by Bernie Sanders in his bid for the White House.

Most Democrats — and Republicans — favor increasing the federal minimum wage, but they're more likely to want it increased to the $12 an hour rate proposed by Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton than the $15 an hour pay supported by Sanders, her rival, according to the poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Some things to know about public opinion on economic issues being talked about in the Democratic primary:

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INCOME INEQUALITY

Reducing income inequality — the central Sanders message — resonates strongly with Democrats, the poll finds.

More than three-quarters of them say reducing the gap between rich and poor is a very or extremely important issue for the next president to address.

And 8 in 10 Democrats, but just 3 in 10 Republicans, say it's the government's responsibility to reduce those income differences. Overall, 56 percent of Americans say so, while 42 percent think it's not.

Even Democrats, though, are somewhat more likely to say that reducing poverty is very important to them (86 percent) than that reducing the gap between rich and poor is that important (77 percent).

Among all Americans, 72 percent say reducing poverty is very important, while 57 percent say reducing the gap between rich and poor is.

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FINANCIAL MARKET REGULATION

Half of Democrats in the poll say government regulation of financial institutions and markets put in place after the 2008 financial crisis did not go far enough. An additional 35 percent think the rules were about right, and 15 percent said they went too far. More than two-thirds of Democrats call regulating financial markets a very important issue.

Among all Americans, 54 percent call financial market regulation a very or extremely important issue. And they're slightly less likely than Democrats to feel the reaction to the financial crisis was too weak, with 42 percent thinking that regulations put in place did not go far enough, 31 percent felt they were about right and 25 percent thought they went too far.

Among Republicans, only a third think regulations after the financial crisis did not go far enough, and only 4 in 10 call financial market regulation an important issue. On the other hand, two-thirds of Republicans — but just under half of Americans overall — call "reducing government regulation" a very important issue.

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MINIMUM WAGE

Seven in 10 Americans favor increasing the minimum wage, the new poll finds. But fewer — just half consider it an important issue. On the other hand, 7 in 10 say increasing wages to keep up with the cost of living is very important.

Among Democrats, though, 85 percent favor increasing the federal minimum wage, and 67 percent say it's important to do so.

The poll finds some partisan unity on the issue, with a majority of Republicans also saying they favor an increase in the federally mandated minimum. But that unity is tenuous, with just 30 percent of Republicans calling a higher minimum an important issue.

Among all Americans, slightly over half favor increasing the minimum wage to $12 an hour from the current $7.25, while just a third support increasing it to $15 an hour. Even Democrats are much more likely to favor a minimum wage increase to $12 an hour (68 percent) than to $15 an hour (49 percent).

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The AP-NORC Poll of 1,008 adults was conducted Jan. 14-17 using a sample drawn from NORC's probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.

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Online:

AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org/

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