No Consensus About Whether Nation Is Divided Into 'Haves' and 'Have-Nots'

Sep 29, 2011

Despite an extended economic downturn, the public’s impression of whether the nation is economically divided remains relatively stable. While 45% say American society is divided between “haves” and “have-nots,” 52% say it is incorrect to think of the country this way. This is comparable to the balance of opinion a year ago.

The percentage of Americans who see society as divided between haves and have-nots declined shortly after Barack Obama took office, but has rebounded since. In April 2009, just 35% said the nation was divided economically, down from 44% in October 2008. The number saying the nation is economically divided increased to 42% a year later and has changed little since then (45% currently).

Since 2009, the percentage of independents saying the country is divided between haves and have-nots has risen 15 points, from 32% to 47%. There has been a comparable increase in the proportion of Democrats expressing this view (from 47% to 59%). Just 27% of Republicans see the nation as economically divided, which is largely unchanged from two years ago (24%).

Read the full report, No Consensus About Whether Nation Is Divided Into 'Haves' and 'Have-Nots', on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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