13 February 2016

By three to one, Wall Street is seen as greedy rather than good


In his weekly letter to CapX subscribers, issued yesterday, Iain Martin has already previewed the YouGov First Verdict panel’s answers to a question we asked about Wall Street. Iain noted how the “findings demonstrate how deep the distrust of Clinton’s friends on Wall Street runs.” He continued: “Two thirds of Americans polled think that Wall Street is “a place of too much greed that could easily be the cause of another Great Recession.”

The precise question we asked was “which of the two statements best describes your view of Wall Street and the US financial system?” 22% agreed that “it is an important part of the US economy and largely run by good people.” Three times as many Americans, however, checked the option that described New York’s financial HQ in negative terms.


This chimes with other results that we have already published on Portrait of America including the finding that 50% agree with Senator Bernie Sanders that the “greed of big business” is “important” in explaining why so many American workers are experiencing tough times. Mr Trump says similar things about how corporate America has engineered immigration and trade policies that serve it but not “Main Street”.

The Sanders’ campaign has continued to spotlight Secretary Hillary Clinton’s links with Wall Street as it attempts to build on the momentum that the Vermont Senator has enjoyed since his 22 points victory in the New Hampshire primary and, new First Verdict results, suggest this attack line might be fertile territory for him. 44% of the YouGov FV panellists said that the donations and fees received by Mrs Clinton worried them and would mean that she might “listen too much to the richest and most powerful people in America.” Exactly half of that percentage was willing to give Mrs Clinton the full benefit of the doubt and saw the former First Lady as “a person of principle” who would not be influenced by organisations and individuals who gave money to her. Another 27% thought Mrs Clinton was so close to unions and left-wing campaign groups that she’d never be a friend of businesses, including those on Wall Street.

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I suspect most politicians other than Senator Sanders (because of his success at eliciting small individual donations on the internet, rather than from larger corporates) and Donald Trump (because of his own, independent wealth) would arouse similar suspicions as Mrs Clinton because of their fundraising machines. Most other politicians are not, however, in a tricky head-to-head race with a man who has chosen to make the ethics of big business and Wall Street such a big part of his pitch. And most candidates don’t already have the “56% likeability problem” that Mrs Clinton struggles underneath.

For more about Portrait of America and the methodology behind First Verdict, click here.

For the complete Portrait of America catalog, click here.

Tim Montgomerie is Editor of CapX