Anti-corporate sentiment has long been an opinion held dominantly by the political left. Phrases like “eat the rich” have been a popular way to express people's negative sentiment towards the top 1% of society. In recent years, however, the negative view of large institutions such as banks and corporations has become more bipartisan. Pew Research conducted a survey to determine the general sentiment about corporations on both sides of the aisle.
Everyone Wants To Eat The Rich
Pew Research surveyed 5,098 adults in October to get a feel for the public's impression of various institutions in the country. Only 38% of Republicans and right-leaning Independents and 41% of Democrats and left-leaning Independents believe that banks and other financial institutions positively affect the direction the country is going.
Smaller percentages of Republicans and right-leaning Independents (26%) and Democrats and left-leaning Independents (25%) think the same of large corporations. Democrats' opinions on banks and large corporations have only seen a slight downward slant since 2019 (41% vs. 37%), while Republicans' views have seen a significantly more downward trend.
In 2019, Republicans had far better things to say about banks and large corporations than Democrats. Republicans were far more likely to express that banks (63% vs. 37%) and large corporations (54% vs. 23%) were positively affecting how things were going.
Technology companies have also started developing a bad reputation with Republicans. After Twitter banned former President Donald Trump and suspended many other right-wing accounts, Republicans began to see technology companies, specifically social media companies, in a much more negative light.
Democrats' views remain unchanged on tech companies having a positive effect on the country (58%), but Republicans' views decreased by 20% from 2019 to 2021 (now 40%) and have since leveled out.
Small Businesses for The Win
Small businesses are viewed much more positively than large corporations on both sides of the political aisle.
80% of Americans think that small businesses positively affect the country, and only 18% think they negatively affect the country. Other institutions in America have positive ratings as well. Americans believe the military (62%), K-12 public schools (55%), labor unions (54%), churches (53%), and colleges and universities (53%) have a positive effect on the country.
Down the party lines, however, opinions are split in these categories. Democrats are almost twice as likely to favor colleges, unions, and public schools. Republicans favor churches and other religious organizations (68% vs. 41%).
Along the ideological spectrum, it is widely consistent that small businesses are the most positive institutions for the country. Another consistent viewpoint is that large corporations are negative. 65% of liberal Democrats and 60% of conservative Republicans say that banks and large corporations have a negative effect on the country. 49% of conservative and moderate Democrats and 56% of moderate and liberal Republicans share this view.
There are significant differences in partisan and ideological opinions regarding labor unions and technology companies. Liberal Democrats (83%) and conservative and moderate Democrats (66%) believe labor unions are good for the country. Only 29% of conservative Republicans and 47% of moderate and liberal Republicans think the same.
Conservative Republicans are significantly more critical of technology companies than any of the other ideological groups as well. They have consistently expressed negative views of the college and university system for the last several years. 76% of Republicans say colleges and universities negatively affect the country.
Moderate and liberal Republicans are pretty evenly split regarding their views on colleges and universities (48% positive, 51% negative). Both liberal and moderate and conservative Democrats believe that the influence of colleges and universities is overwhelmingly positive.
29% of conservative Republicans believe that K-12 schools negatively affect the country, the lowest percentage of all polled ideologies.
On the Democrats' side, there are significant ideological differences regarding views on religious organizations and the military. Conservative and moderate Democrats hold the majority in thinking churches and organizations positively impact the country (56%). In comparison, the vast majority of liberal Democrats (74%) say that religious organizations have a negative effect.
74% of conservative and moderate Democrats believe the military positively impacts the country, the most significant percentage of all the polled ideologies. Liberal Democrats have a far less optimistic view of the military, with only 52% saying it is positive and 45% saying it is negative.
The Age Gap
Views about these institutions, most notably the military and churches, vary by age group. Young adults ages 18-29 are significantly more pessimistic about the impact of the military, with only 49% saying it has a positive effect on the country. Adults under 30 are far less likely than those ages 30 and older to believe that churches have a positive impact.
Adults under the age of 50 are far more likely than adults ages 50-64 (52%) and adults ages 65 and older (43%) to believe that K-12 public schools positively impact the country. This percentage split is similar to the topic of colleges and universities.