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60% Oppose Financial Bailouts; 74% Say Wall Street Benefited Most

The bailouts of the financial industry still leave a sour taste in the mouths of most Americans who feel as strongly as ever that the government was looking out for bankers rather than taxpayers and that crimes on Wall Street remain unpunished.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only seven percent (7%) of American Adults believe the average taxpayer benefited more than Wall Street from the bailouts. Seventy-four percent (74%) now think Wall Street benefited more. Nineteen percent (19%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Just 20% think it was a good idea for the government to provide bailout funding to banks and other financial institutions. Sixty percent (60%) believe the financial bailouts were a bad idea. American voters opposed the bailouts from the moment they were announced by the Bush Administration in the fall of 2008.  Other polling released last week shows that most continue to believe the auto bailouts were a bad idea too.

While many activists try to link the Republican Party and Wall Street, Republicans think the bailouts were a bad idea by an eight-to-one margin. Those not affiliated with either major party think they were a bad idea by a four-to-one margin. Democrats are much more evenly divided. Thirty-four percent (34%) of those in the president’s party say the bailouts were a good idea while 42% disagree.

Overall, 68% believe that most of the bailout money went to the very people who created the nation’s ongoing economic crisis. Twelve percent (12%) disagree, and 21% aren’t sure. This level of skepticism hasn’t changed in two-and-a-half years

No wonder than that 79% agree with the slogan now being chanted by protestors on Wall Street that “the big banks got bailed out, but the middle class got left behind.”  Perhaps given their view of how the bailouts worked for Wall Street rather than Main Street, it is not surprising that Americans overwhelmingly believe more free market competition is the way to solve the problem, rather than more government regulation.

Two-out-of-three Americans (66%) believe the federal government has not been aggressive enough in pursuing possible criminal behavior by some Wall Street bankers. Ten percent (10%) don’t feel that’s true, but another 25% are not sure. These views are largely unchanged from May.

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The national survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on October 3-4, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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