A couple of polls from back in late 2015 may give some indication of fundamental beliefs that will play out in the general election in November 2016.
Back in September 2015, almost half (49 percent) of Americans saw the free-market as the best escalator out of poverty, while a mere 18 percent disagreed. That still leaves a disturbing 33 percent “not sure.” Similarly, when asked if the American economic system gave everyone an equal chance to succeed, 52 percent said that it did, while 45 percent said that it did not. This second report is bizarre. Do most Americans really believe that the children of upper middle class suburban whites have an equal chance to succeed as a fifteen year-old black girl living with her mother or grandmother in North Philadelphia? Perhaps it depends on the meaning of “success.” No two people have an equal chance to end up in the same place, but perhaps they have an equal chance to improve on their starting position. Perhaps it reflects a belief that people don’t have an equal chance, but that if you admit that there is a problem, then the Democrats or Republicans will come up with some new scheme that doesn’t work any better than the previous ones. In any event, faith in capitalism has been undermined—by capitalists.
Just under half saw the economy as good, but a plurality saw it as stagnating. That is, the country had recovered from the “Great Recession,” but it wasn’t moving forward to new heights. Why was it stagnating? Not for the reasons that Bernie Sanders might think. On the issue of government regulation’s impact on the economy, 54 percent said that it posed a more urgent danger than did economic inequality, while 38 percent said that too little regulation posed a more urgent problem. Republicans and a majority of Independents believed that the Republicans would do a better job managing the economy and creating jobs. This in the wake of the financial crisis, the “Great Recession,” and Republican opposition to a big stimulus bill! How is this possible? Well, perhaps things like the roll-out of Healthcare,gov have made lots of people go “even those idiot Republicans would be better than these clowns.” Democrats and a minority of Independents beg to differ. On the question of priorities, the vast majority (61 percent) saw unemployment as a greater problem than inequality (12 percent). Since the “Great Recession,” Democratic politicians and their favorite economists have been talking about the injustices and economic problems created by income inequality. Broadly, Americans weren’t buying it. Get the economy growing again and the inequality stuff will go away.
Wall Street’s reputation hadn’t recovered from the financial crisis. A large majority (61 percent) expressed Not Much (29 percent) or No (32 percent) confidence in Wall Street bankers and brokers. Almost a third (31 percent) expressed only Some confidence. Related to this lack of confidence in Wall Street itself, a majority (58 percent) expressed Not Much (34 percent) or No (24 percent) confidence in the ability of the federal government to regulate financial institutions. Again, almost a third (31 percent) expressed only Some confidence. Perhaps this is one source of the distrust and unpopularity of Hillary Clinton? We know that the Republicans are sold to the big money, but it’s disconcerting to see the guardian of Main Street “walking hand in hand with the one I love.”
 Tim Montgomerie, “A Fading Faith in Capitalism,” WSJ, 7-8 November 2015.
 Andrew Ross Sorkin and Megan Thee-Brenan, “Many Feel American Dream Is Out of Reach, Poll Shows,” NYT, 11 December 2015.
 Then how come Romney didn’t win? Because, although a very nice and accomplished man, he was an incredible bust as a national level politician?
 Montgomerie, “A Fading Faith.”