Hope springs eternal: Most American youths believe they’ll be rich someday

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A salesman takes a picture of his stand in front of the 72-meter yacht Serenity in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. The Dubai International Boat Show is being held from Tuesday to Saturday and features yachts costing into the hundreds of millions of dollars. (Jon Gambrell/AP Photo)

A salesman takes a picture of his stand in front of the 72-meter yacht Serenity in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. The Dubai International Boat Show is being held from Tuesday to Saturday and features yachts costing into the hundreds of millions of dollars. (Jon Gambrell/AP Photo)

NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller sits down for his weekly conversation with Gallup’s Frank Newport to talk about trends in U.S. opinion.

President Donald Trump is injecting himself into races across the country as both Republicans and Democrats end up making the election a referendum on his administration.

One indication of the extraordinary impact of Trump could be how his views  have polarized Democrats and Republicans across the country.

Strongly held opinions of President Trump, May 2018 (Gallup)

Republicans, in general, are more positive about Trump than they have been about any president in Gallup’s records except for George W. Bush after 9/11.

One of the most significant economic debates in the nation centers around inequality and the potential harm versus benefit of having an increasingly wealthy class of Americans.

New Gallup data show that about six in 10 Americans continue to say that it is good for the nation to have a “class of rich people.” But, like so much else in American society, there’s a huge divide on this between Republicans and Democrats: 81 percent of Republicans say it benefits the nation to have a class of rich people, while 43 percent of Democrats agree.

Would you personally want to be rich? Six in 10 Americans say “yes.” Unlike Americans’ philosophic position on the rich, there is virtually no difference on this between Republicans and Democrats. The latter are just as likely to want to be personally rich as the former.

But reality intrudes when we ask Americans whether they are likely to be rich in their lifetimes. Hope springs eternal in the minds of young people; more than half hold out hope that they will be rich someday. But as we age, we become increasingly less likely to say we will be rich.

We have all heard about research showing that lottery winners end up being less happy than they were before they won. Well, our data show that Americans tend to agree that becoming rich isn’t an instant way to be happy. In fact, 56 percent say rich people are no more or less happy than others, and 28 percent say they are actually less happy.

Only 12 percent of Americans believe that the rich are happier than the rest of us. This could reflect the fact that only 1 percent of Americans define themselves as rich. There has been a little change in this. Back in 1990, 36 percent said that rich people were less happy, compared with 28 percent today.

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