News & Politics

A Koch Brothers-Commissioned Survey Found Americans Really Like Free College and Universal Health Care

The billionaires didn't get the results they were hoping for at all.

Photo Credit: Investors Archive

When Charles and David Koch’s marketing and communications group In Pursuit Of  conducted a survey on a variety of issues in late July, the billionaires were obviously hoping for a very libertarian outcome. But the survey indicated that while many Americans are libertarian on social issues, they aren’t so libertarian economically—and in some areas, their views are more in line with Sen. Bernie Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren than with libertarian icons like former Texas Rep. Ron Paul and 2012/2016 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson.

Participants in the survey were asked to rank possible solutions to the U.S.’ problems as a “very effective solution,” “somewhat effective solution,” “not a solution at all,” or “don’t know.” They were very much in line with libertarians when it comes to “ending harsh sentences for nonviolent petty crimes,” which most considered either “very effective” (37%) or “somewhat effective” (40%). So on that issue, the participants would clearly be in agreement with Paul or Johnson.

But when it came to “more regulation on Wall Street,” participants had more in common with Warren. Participants felt that greater Wall Street regulation would be either “very effective” (33%) or “somewhat effective” (36%).

Another Warren-ish response: “ending the cronyism that leads to corporate welfare” was rated as “very effective” by 37% of participants or “somewhat effective” by 35%.

Here’s a part Sanders would like: participants felt that “government-paid college tuition” would be either “very effective” (35%) or “somewhat effective” (31%). And Sanders would also appreciate the fact that participants felt a $15 minimum wage would be either “very effective” (35%) or “somewhat effective” (30%).

Another one liberals and progressives would like: “increasing government assistance for child care” was rated as “very effective” by 30% of participants or “somewhat effective” by 39% of them. In other words, almost seven out of ten Americans see the need to make child care easier.

Another one on the list was “preparing ex-offenders to re-enter society as law-abiding and productive citizens,” which was described as “very effective” by 39% of participants and “somewhat effective” by 45% of participants. That one could be spun as either a libertarian result or a liberal/progressive result: Sanders on the left and Ron Paul and Gary Johnson on the right have all been extremely critical of the Prison/Industrial Complex and mass incarceration.

So, to summarize: the Koch brothers hoped for a consistently libertarian result—but they received a lot of liberal/progressive results instead.

 

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Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.