Gallup reports that only 2 percent of Americans list the “divide between rich and poor” as the most important economic issue facing the country. Those findings come from an open-ended survey, meaning respondents were not confined to a pre-selected group of responses. Unemployment and the national debt top the list, but all told, a full 17 economic issues rank higher in the American political consciousness than income inequality.
Progressives had high hopes the Occupy Wall Street movement was going to turn “income inequality” – a largely mythical concept in the U.S. – into a major national concern. As the poll shows, OWS hasn’t had much success here. At the same time, there are plenty of conservative issues, like taxes and entitlement programs, that also rank low on the list of American worries.
It’s not necessarily that the public doesn’t care about these issues. It’s just that the concerns about unemployment eclipse them. According to the poll, jobs are the foremost worry for Americans at 26 percent, followed by the national debt at 16 percent. Which means President Obama’s class warfare rhetoric won’t help him appeal to many voters, unless he pegs it to job creation and deficit reduction.