February 2, 2012

Lower-Income Republicans Say Government Does Too Little for Poor People


Mitt Romney’s statement that he is focused solely on the problems of middle class Americans, not the poor, may not sit well with lower-income voters within his own party. Roughly a quarter of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters have annual family incomes under $30,000, and most of them say that the government does not do enough for poor people in this country.

In a Pew Research Center survey conducted in early October, 57% of lower-income Republican and Republican-leaning voters said the government does too little for poor people. Just 18% said it does too much.

By contrast, higher-income Republicans took the opposite view; by roughly two-to-one (44% to 21%) Republicans with incomes of $75,000 or more said the government does too much, not too little, for poor people.

This is not to say that lower-income Republicans have a better view of the federal government generally. They are just as distrustful of government and angry at government these days as are higher-income Republicans. But in a December 2011 poll, lower-income Republicans expressed a decidedly different view about the fairness of the economic system than did those with higher incomes. Republicans and GOP leaners with family incomes of less than $30,000 were much more likely than those with incomes of $75,000 or more to say the economic system unfairly favors the wealthy, that Wall Street does more harm than good, and that a few rich people and corporations have too much power.

While they differ from higher-income Republicans, lower-income Republicans also differ from Democrats on many of these issues. For example, in October, 72% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters said the government doesn’t do enough for poor people, compared with the slimmer 57% majority of lower-income Republicans.