Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise highlighted a Pew Research Center survey on Thursday, 'Survey Finds Rising Strain Between Rich And the Poor,' and quickly suggested it meant 'the message of income inequality brandished by the Occupy Wall Street movement and pressed by Democrats may be seeping into the national consciousness.'
Conflict between rich and poor now eclipses racial strain and friction between immigrants and the native-born as the greatest source of tension in American society, according to a survey released Wednesday.
About two-thirds of Americans now believe there are 'strong conflicts' between rich and poor in the United States, a survey by the Pew Research Center found, a sign that the message of income inequality brandished by the Occupy Wall Street movement and pressed by Democrats may be seeping into the national consciousness.
The share was the largest since 1992, and represented about a 50 percent increase from the 2009 survey, when immigration was seen as the greatest source of tension. In that survey, 47 percent of those polled said there were strong conflicts between classes.
The change in perception is the result of a confluence of factors, Mr. Morin said, probably including the Occupy Wall Street movement, which put the issue of undeserved wealth and fairness in American society at the top of the news throughout most of the fall.
The issue has also become a prominent part of the political debate. President Obama has pressed the case that income inequality is rising as election season has gotten under way.
It has even crept into the Republican presidential primary race. At a debate in New Hampshire last Saturday, Rick Santorum criticized Mitt Romney for using the phrase 'middle class,' dismissing the words as Democratic weapons to divide society. And conservatives have been wringing their hands over Newt Gingrich's recent attacks on Mr. Romney's past in private equity, saying they are a misguided assault on free-market capitalism.
Tavernise buried a faintly dismissive rebuttal in the last two paragraphs of the 23-paragraph story, along with the usual 'conservative' warning label.
Robert Rector, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, took issue with that, arguing that government data routinely undercounted aid to the poor and taxes taken from everyone else.
To him, the findings did not mean much, 'other than that the topic has been in the press for the last two years.'