Americans love class war!

A poll shows majorities of swing voters, Democrats and even Romney supporters don't admire the rich

Published June 5, 2012 8:15PM (EDT)

Mitt Romney, center, celebrates Bain Capital profits with colleagues in 1984. Taxpayers helped fund the party    (Bain Capital)
Mitt Romney, center, celebrates Bain Capital profits with colleagues in 1984. Taxpayers helped fund the party (Bain Capital)

Americans still hate the rich, according to yet another poll. And not just godless secular liberals! Pew's major Trends in American Values poll shows class resentments bridging the partisan divide: “Majorities in all educational and income groups agree that ‘today it’s really true that the rich just get richer while the poor get poorer.’ In the current survey, 76% of the public agrees with this statement, about the same as the 74% that agreed in 1987.”

Even the moderate pundit crowd's beloved independents agree: Our ruling classes are worthless parasites. A mere 22 percent of "swing voters" "admire the rich." (How many Romney supporters "admire the rich," you ask? Thirty-eight percent. No one likes rich people.)

As Elspeth Reeve puts it, succinctly and correctly, "swing voters are not libertarians." They're also not "socially liberal and fiscally conservative," like the vast majority of our well-off media elites tend to consider themselves.

Basically, vast swaths of Americans hate the rich, and also hate immigrants. Right now there are two pro-rich people political parties and one anti-immigrant political party. You can probably imagine which one is winning over these voters. It's almost as if the conservative party gradually scared the ostensibly liberal party away from economic populism then reaped the electoral benefits of being the only populist party!

This is not to say that these independents would be won over by old-fashioned liberalism: Everyone's been trained to believe that the deficit is bad and that government spending on the needy will only help unnamed Other People, so no one really supports the expansion of the social safety net. On the other hand, rhetorical rich-people bashing is an obvious political positive (which is why Republicans both decry class warfare and constantly crow about the awfulness of elite liberals), even if it makes various pundits very sad. (And makes fundraising more challenging, obviously.)

Still: Even if these swing voters think helping the needy isn't worth growing the debt, I am reasonably sure they'd all happily sign on to a program of taxing the hell out of the "job creators," whom everyone apparently despises. (That is my free tip to Democrats looking for some of that "Ryan Plan" magic. Just have someone draw up a "soak the rich" plan that involves spending the money on things "swing voters" like, like schools and so on. So crazy it just might have worked for 30-plus years!)

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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Income Inequality Money Polling