President Barack Obama hailed it “the defining challenge of our times.” The Pope called it the “root of social evil.” And progressive economics sensation Thomas Piketty bagged big money penning a best-seller on the topic. Yet despite the left’s best efforts to turn “income inequality” into a kitchen table issue, the Washington Post says internal Democratic polls conclude that the issue is a dud with voters.
“After making fighting income inequality an early focus of his second term, President Obama has largely abandoned talk of the subject this election year in a move that highlights the emerging debate within the Democratic Party over economic populism and its limits,” reports the Post. “The pivot is striking for a president who identified inequality as one of his top concerns after his reelection, calling it ‘a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the globe.'”
Early signs of Democratic insecurity on the income inequality meme’s resonance could be seen in January statements from Obama’s own pollster, Joel Benenson, who told reporters at a Democratic gathering that he believed “the attention on inequality is a bit overhyped.”
Obama and Democrats’ decision to focus their messaging on the gap between rich and poor is made all the more curious when viewed against voters’ top concerns. Gallup’s May survey found that just 3% of Americans cited the “gap between rich and poor” as the most important problem facing the nation. Findings like that, reports the Post, prompted Obama to abandon the income inequality rhetoric.
“It was clear in 2013 that income inequality was the top narrative for the White House, but they abruptly switched away from it,” said senior vice president for policy at Third Way Jim Kessler, a Democratic think tank.
Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) candidly admits that internal polling data proves the class warfare and soak the rich rhetoric is an election loser.
“There are some who believe it’s better to talk about the negative parts of wealth that people have accumulated, but our polling data show people care less about that and more about how we’re going to help them,” said Schumer.
It is not yet clear how Democratic activists and voters will react to Obama and Democrats’ abrupt muting of the income inequality message. However, one group of Obama supporters–Silicon Valley–may take solace in Obama’s backpedaling on the issue. Experts say the technology industry, which overwhelming favored Barack Obama, is actually the “main driver” of income inequality, because it allows young tech entrepreneurs to score huge financial fortunes in record time, thereby widening the growing gap between rich and poor.