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Wall Street and the ‘Robin Hood’ Tax: Do Americans Say Yea or Nay?

Wall Street and the ‘Robin Hood’ Tax: Do Americans Say Yea or Nay?

Wall StreetIn an era of political polarization, distrust of Wall Street is one of the few sentiments that unifies both Republicans and Democrats. Partisans differ, however, in their views of Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposal to enact a “Robin Hood tax” on stock market trades.

In the wake of the Great Recession, ratings of “Wall Street” are net negative across the political spectrum, though more so among Democrats.

Specifically, “investment banks on Wall Street” draw bigger unfavorable ratings from Democratic and Democratic-leaning independent voters (76% unfavorable). Whereas Republicans and Republican-leaning independents come in at 58%. More from Democrats who support Sanders (81%) than those backing Clinton (72%).

Distrust of the big banks is one of the defining characteristics of Sanders voters. They also react more negatively than Clinton supporters to “the hedge fund industry” (82% unfavorable for Sanders supporters vs 72% for Clinton), “venture capital companies” (64 vs 54%) and “commercial banks” (64 vs 50%).


Suspicion on Wall Street does not stop with the Democrats. Majorities of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters give negative ratings to hedge funds (60% unfavorable) and Wall Street investment banks (58%). The negative marks for Wall Street are just as high among supporters of Donald Trump (59%) as Ted Cruz (56%) and John Kasich (59%).

While they may share distrust of Wall Street, the Left and Right divide more predictably on the importance they assign to dealing with income inequality. On a closed-ended question, nearly half (43%) of Sanders backers choose “the gap between the rich and everyone else” as the biggest economic concern facing the country, compared to 30% of Clinton supporters, 13% of independents who don’t lean and just 5% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Republicans care far more about “taxes and government,” with nearly half (46%) ranking it as the most important issue.

So it’s not surprising that most Sanders backers support his plan to pay for his domestic initiatives with a new “tax on Wall Street speculators” or that Republicans flee from it.

Better than two-thirds (68%) of Sanders supporters favor of his proposed new tax, even when stripped of the rhetoric (“a new tax on all stock market trades, that is on every stock and bond bought and sold in the United States”), while 30% oppose it. The tax gets less support (56%) from Clinton backers (40% oppose it).


Among other voters, however, the support for the proposal fails to match their resentment toward Wall Street. Among all registered voters the Sanders stock tax gets a net thumbs down, with just 41% in favor and 56% opposed. Opposition includes 76% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 56% of independents who lean to neither party. Republicans and most independents still hate higher taxes more than they distrust Wall Street.


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