SIU Poll Asks About Income Gap, Occupy, Tea Party
By WestKyStar Staff
CARBONDALE, IL - More results from a recent statewide poll have been released, indicating that a majority of voters in Illinois feel that the nation's wealth should be more evenly distributed.

The poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale asked if current wealth distribution is fair, and 57.8 percent said no, while 34.5 percent said yes, and 7.7 percent said they didn't know.

There has been a lot of discussion about the Tea Party movement and Occupy groups in the last year or two, and the Presidential campaign has also had its share of rhetoric about voter's incomes. This poll, taken September 4-10, included 1,261 registered voters.

Just under half of those polled - 46.9 percent, believe that "rich people are wealthy mainly because they know the right people or were born into wealthy families," while 40.4 percent said that those people's wealth was because of their education, ambition, or hard work. 7.8 percent think it's a combination of both, and 2.2 percent thought is was neither of those reasons.

As for whether the government should get involved in narrowing the gap between the the rich and everyone else, 52.1 percent said yes, 41.1 percent said no, and 6.8 percent said they weren't sure.

“It appears that the public has been listening to the debates between the two parties, their candidates, and such groups as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street,” said John S. Jackson, one of the directors of the poll. “More than half of Illinois voters come down on the side of those who call for the federal government to take some actions which would ameliorate the growing income and wealth gaps in the U.S.”

Charles Leonard, a Simon Institute visiting professor and director of the poll, said that, while majorities overall support the proposition that rich people are wealthy because of their connections and that wealth should be more evenly distributed, there are partisan differences.

“Republican voters in our survey were more than twice as likely to say the wealthy got that way because of their hard work rather than because of inheritance or connections. The reverse is true of Democrats, who are much more likely to say that the rich got their wealth because of inherited circumstances.

“Similarly, about three-fourths of Democrats felt the government should be involved in wealth redistribution, while about three-fourths of Republicans were opposed,” Leonard continued. “The balance came from Independents, who slightly but significantly favored policies to reduce the wealth gap between the rich and everyone else.”

The poll also asked about the influence of the Occupy or Tea Party movements, and results showed that both groups are valued, but with limitations. Regarding the Occupy Movement, 34 percent said they have too much influence, 27.4 percent said their influence was where it should be, and 17.4 percent said it was too little. Percentages were quite similar for the Tea Party movement, with 34.6 percent saying they had too much influence, 32 percent agreeing their influence was "about right", and 15.9 percent thinking it was not enough.

The 2012 Simon Poll has a margin for error of plus or minus 2.77 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. This means that if we were to conduct the survey 100 times, in 95 of those instances the results would vary by no more than plus or minus 2.77 percent.

See the complete press release at .

Published 11:28 AM, Saturday Oct. 06, 2012
Updated 12:45 PM, Saturday Oct. 06, 2012