Only 46% of Americans Support Regulating Large Banks?

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Gallup asked some people whether they supported new laws to regulate "large banks and major financial institutions." Less than 46% said they were in favor. Then they changed the object of regulation to "Wall Street." The result? A four-percentage point increase.

 
Matt Yglesias and the FT Alphaville are impressed by the framing effect opening the spread by 11 percentage points. OK, 11 points is nothing to scoff at. But this chart is more surprising.

Support for Banking and Wall Street Reform, by Party ID

Three observations...

1. Democrats' support for banking regulation actually falls (barely, and bizarrely) when pollsters change "large banks/financial institutions" to "Wall Street." Still at two-thirds support, it's awfully high either way.

2. Republicans really seem to bite on the financial institutions/Wall Street framing effect, with the spread shrinking from 48 to 18 percentage points. Still, they don't support regulation no matter what you call the financial industry.

3. Independents swing from roughly even to supporting by a healthy margin when the object changes.

One big question looms: This poll was conducted in days after the SEC announced its fraud suit against Goldman Sachs. That should represent one of the high water marks of public distrust of big banks and support for their regulation. Instead pollsters can't even find 51% support for regulating Wall Street. How is that possible?

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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