A new poll POLITICO/Morning Consult conducted between the 14th and 17th September 2017 surveying 1,994 registered US voters, found that, of those asked whether they would support or oppose ‘a proposal in which the government would provide all Americans a regular, unconditional sum of money, sometimes referred to as universal basic income’, 43% either ‘strongly supported’ or ‘somewhat supported’ the idea.
The subgroup data showed that 23% ‘strongly supported’ the notion, 20% ‘somewhat supported’ it, 14% ‘somewhat opposed’ it, 25% ‘strongly opposed’ it, and 18% ‘didn’t know’ or ‘had no opinion’ on the idea. Males were slightly more in favour than females, with 46% compared to 39% supporting the idea. The breakdown by age showed that younger people were more receptive to the idea of a UBI than older people, with 48% of 18-29 year olds supportive of the idea compared with 32% against, while 52% of 30-44 year olds were supportive of the idea compared with 33% against. Within the 45-54 year old age group, 43% were in favour versus 39% against. Though 55-64 year olds were more opposed to a UBI than were supportive of it, 41% were still in favour of the proposal. Support amongst the over 65s was only at 30%, with 49% of this age group opposing the concept.
Of those who identified as having a ‘liberal ideology’, 32% ‘strongly supported’ and 27% ‘somewhat supported’ the proposal. Only 26% of this group either ‘somewhat opposed’ or ‘strongly opposed’ the idea. Consistent with what might be expected, those who identified as having a ‘moderate ideology’ were marginally more supportive of the proposal than opposed it: 44% against 39%; and those who identified as having a ‘conservative ideology’ were significantly more in opposition of it than they were supportive: 60% against 26%. Slightly surprisingly, given that highly educated adults – particularly those who have attended graduate school – are far more likely than those with less education to take predominantly liberal positions, there was a trend away from support of the proposal the more education the respondents had received. Of those who did not hold qualifications from college or higher, 46% were in general support of a UBI, compared with 38% of those with bachelor’s degrees and 34% of those with postgraduate degrees. A majority of those holding higher-education qualifications: 50% of those with bachelor’s degrees and 53% of those with postgraduate degrees, were in opposition to the proposal.
Those with lower incomes were more supportive of the idea than those with higher incomes. Amongst those with an annual income of $50k or less, 47% were either ‘strongly supportive of’ or ‘somewhat supportive of’ a UBI, compared with 41% of those with an annual income of between $50k and $100k, and only 29% of those with an annual income of more than $100k. Consistent with ethnic wealth distribution in the US, fewer identifying as ethnically white were supportive of the idea than were identifying as Hispanic or African American. Of the latter group, 61% were either ‘strongly supportive of’ or ‘somewhat supportive of’ the idea of a UBI, compared with 51% of those identifying as Hispanic and 39% of those identifying as white. The support, across the different employment sectors – private, government, self-employed, homemaker, student, retired, unemployment, other – was fairly consistent, ranging from 43% to 50% being generally supportive of the concept, with only the retired segment – in line with the results from the breakdown by age demographic – being generally opposed to the idea, where only 33% were ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ supportive.
Geographically – Northeast, Midwest, South, West – there was not a great deal of fluctuation either in support of or in opposition to a UBI, with figures hovering around the overall averages. Urban communities were more receptive than suburban or rural communities, with 52% being generally supportive against 40% and 39% respectively.
For proponents of a UBI, the overall results compare favourably against a poll conducted by YouGov US and the Huffington Post on January 7th and 8th in 2014. When asked whether they would ‘favor or oppose expanding Social Security to every American, regardless of age, to guarantee a basic income to every American’, only 18% said they would ‘strongly favor’ the idea with an additional 17% saying they would ‘somewhat favor’, compared with 16% who said they would ‘somewhat oppose’ and 38% who would ‘strongly oppose’ the notion. The increasing popularity of a UBI in the US was also consistent with a poll conducted toward the end of 2016 by 50+1 Strategies and David Binder Research on behalf of the Economic Security Project, which found that, of the 500 people surveyed, 46% of were in favour of the idea, with 35 percent opposed and 19 percent undecided.
More information at:
Morning Consult and Politico, ‘Morning Consult National Tracking Poll #170911’, September 14th-17th, 2017
Pew Research Center, ‘A Wider Ideological Gap Between More and Less Educated Adults: Political polarization update’, PeoplePress.org, April 26th, 2016
Peter Moore, ‘Poll Results: Guaranteed jobs and basic income’, YouGov.com, January 9th, 2014
Patrick Caughill, ‘Survey Reveals Nearly 50% of Americans Favor a Universal Basic Income’, Futurism.com, December 20th, 2016