I suggested in a comment on John’s post this morning that Mitt Romney’s “wealth problem” probably has more to do with perceptions that he doesn’t really ”care about people like me” than with wealth per se. Here’s a different angle on the same issue—average ratings on a 100-point “feeling thermometer” for a variety of social groups. (A rating of 50 is supposed to reflect neutral feelings about a group, so numbers between 50 and 100 reflect varying degrees of net favorability. These ratings are from the 2004 National Election Study survey, extracted from Table 5.4 of my 2008 book, Unequal Democracy.)
These ratings suggest that a rich business person with strong ties to “big business” evokes a pretty mixed set of social resonances—perhaps on a par with a poor person on welfare with strong ties to labor unions.
Individuals’ ratings of the various groups are related to income, education, partisanship, and ideology in ways that are mostly unsurprising; but it is worth noting that even conservative Republicans expressed considerably warmer views, on average, toward poor people than toward rich people.
Extra credit for anyone who happens to know whether these numbers have changed much in the wake of the Great Recession. If they have, I’d guess that the changes have not been for the better from Romney’s perspective.
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