The American public has a complex relationship with business: Americans have largely positive views of major companies, yet they are concerned about corporate power, profits and political involvement, according to a new survey.
The second-annual Public Affairs Pulse survey, commissioned by the Public Affairs Council and released July 31, shows that two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) have a favorable opinion of big companies, up from 61 percent in last year’s survey; and as many as 88 percent have a positive view of small business.
At the same time, public confidence in the federal government’s ability to solve the nation’s problems has eroded, and a majority of Americans are looking to companies to step in and help.
Only 41 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the federal government, and 58 percent of Americans have little or no trust in the government to solve the country’s major problems.
Meanwhile, 72 percent of Americans would like to see business help provide community services such as food banks and job training for the poor, and 68 percent would like business to assist in improving health care.
Yet while many favor an expanded role for business in this capacity, 76 percent say that too much power is concentrated in the hands of a few large companies, and 63 percent think major companies make too much profit.
The question of corporate lobbying and political involvement is equally complex.
Although most Americans don’t like it when companies hire lobbyists, when asked they overwhelmingly approve of lobbying for a specific business purpose. Some 81 percent support lobbying to protect jobs, 78 percent support lobbying to open new markets, and 71 percent support lobbying to create a level playing field.
But involvement in political campaigns is viewed in a more negative light: Fifty-seven percent of those polled say they think less favorably of companies that pay for ads to support a specific political candidate.
Outsourcing of jobs and executive bonuses are also largely frowned upon by those polled.
For the full results of the 2012 Public Affairs Pulse survey, click the Full Report tab above.
The survey, conducted June 20 to July 11 by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, is based on telephone interviews with 1,750 adults.
* UPDATED 8/2/12. Previous version of “Expressing Positive and Negative Views” tables (on page 19 of report) contained accurate data, but they were based on different age groups than those cited in the text. Chart was updated to use the same cross-tabs the text uses, for clarity.