It’s not surprising that many Democrats still think that big banks like Citigroup and JPMorgan should be broken up, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has said as much explicitly, but according to a new poll a majority of Republicans also want to break them up. The Progressive Change Institute has found that 58% of likely voters would like to break up big banks, with 71% of Democrats and 51% of Republicans saying they would support the measure, as first reported by Christina Rexrode for The Wall Street Journal.
Big banks: Poll question was biased, results probably skewed
As the Wall Street Journal points out, the poll should be taken with a grain of salt (to the possible chagrin of Goldman Sachs). The Progressive Change Institute is the sister organization of the Political Change Campaign Committee PAC, and re-instating Glass-Steagall is one of its major campaigns right now, so it has an interest in reporting widespread support for its ideas. It also asked the question in a clearly biased way, asking about banks that “played a big role in the financial crisis and recently demonstrated they still have too much power by lobbying for and winning the repeal of a major reform designed to stop Wall Street abuse and taxpayer bailouts.”
Bank CEOs, of course, would argue that they are over-regulated (find an industry whose leaders say that it is under-regulated), and whether the recent change to Dodd-Frank constitutes the repeal of a major reform is certainly up for debate. But the question wasn’t designed to actually gauge public opinion.
Hostility toward banks could still be a campaign issue
Even if the numbers are skewed (and it is pretty hard to believe that a majority of Republicans support breaking up the banks), the poll shows that anger at Wall Street over the financial crisis really hasn’t cooled that much. If even 60% of Democrats actually support such a strong measure it could have serious implications for the presidential election cycle that’s just now starting to gear up. There has been a lot of speculation about whether Elizabeth Warren will run against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries (neither have announced, but no one doubts Clinton will run), and one of the clearest differences between them is that Warren has been a consistent critic of Wall Street where the Clintons have built connections. If she decides to run, Warren could find a bigger constituency on the left that conventional wisdom predicts.