Pew Research Center President Andrew Kohut Writes in Friday’s New York Times that while income inequality has become a hot-button issue during the current political campaign, there is little indication that Americans are increasingly divided along the lines of class conflict.

Awareness of economic inequality is not new, Kohut notes. Pew surveys going back to 1987 have found an average of 75 percent of the American public thinking that the “rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.” As far back as 1941, 60 percent of respondents told the Gallup poll that there was too much power in the hands of a few rich people and large corporations in the United States.

The article points to other surveys and studies show that people don’t necessarily want to take money from the wealthy; they just want a better chance to get rich themselves. They care about policies that give everyone a fair shot — a distinction that candidates in both parties should understand as they head into the 2012 campaigns.

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