Less Than 1 in 3 Say Obama Favors Have-Nots

So much for GOP claims about "class warfare." Meanwhile, three-quarters of blacks deem society "divided" between haves and have-nots.

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Washington Post-Pew Center

Score one for President Barack Obama in this rancorous political season.

At a time when poverty is at its highest rate in recent history, a new Washington Post-Pew Center poll indicates that nearly half of all Americans say that the president treats society's rich and poor just about the same. Despite Republican claims that he is engaged in "class warfare," only 29 percent of respondents said that President Obama favors the "have-notes."

Perhaps the class-warfare claim is a Republican attempt to deflect attention away from their party's policies toward the wealthy. The results of the poll reported at the Washington Post show that almost half of the respondents say that Republicans in Congress are doing more to help the "haves," with fewer -- under a third -- saying that the GOP treats both sides of the divide about equally.

Yet, despite worsening economic conditions -- and a growing gap between rich and poor -- fewer than half of all Americans, 45 percent, see society as fundamentally divided between haves and have-nots. A slim 52 percent majority say it is not, though that number has dropped significantly since the early days of the Obama administration.

When asked to classify themselves, 48 percent of poll respondents identify among the haves and 34 percent among the have-nots. Current opinions on these questions are close to their long term trends. 

Nearly three-quarters of African Americans say society is divided, compared with 40 percent of whites. And more than half of African Americans identify as being among the have-nots. Most whites identify as being among the haves. 

Despite fresh proposals to raise taxes on millionaires and allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, the percentage of Americans seeing Obama as favoring the haves has bumped higher since 2009, from 8 to 15 percent. The number saying he is partial toward the have-nots is unchanged.

Forty-seven percent of the respondents say that Republicans and Congress are seen overall as helping the haves. Really? This should be a clarion call to Congress to stop playing politics and start paying attention to all people. Averting a government shutdown was a good start, but members still have a long way to go toward dealing with the economy and promoting racial healing. 

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM