Democrats and Republicans largely distrust corporations, Pew survey finds

Along with large corporations, financial institutions and technology companies also saw a decrease in popular support.

 Activists in morph suits protest against Russian energy imports by oil companies Shell, Aral and Esso after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in front of the Rhineland oil refinery in Cologne, Germany on April 4. (photo credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters)
Activists in morph suits protest against Russian energy imports by oil companies Shell, Aral and Esso after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in front of the Rhineland oil refinery in Cologne, Germany on April 4.
(photo credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters)

While Democrats and Republicans have grown further apart on political issues and tensions between left and right-wing have risen, a new Pew survey has found that both liberals and conservatives see large corporations in a negative light – and that figure is growing larger.

According to the survey, 71% of conservatives and 80% of liberals said large corporations have a negative effect on the situation in the US, while 60% of conservatives and 65% of liberals said large banks had a negative effect on the nation.

While the number of right-wing respondents who said large corporations had a positive effect on society was as large as 54% in 2019, it has dropped to just 26%. Just 25% of Independents and left-wing respondents said large corporations had a positive effect on society.

Financial institutions and technology companies also saw a decrease in popular support. 63% of right-wing respondents said banks and other financial institutions had a positive effect on society, while 58% said the same about tech companies – figures that have dropped to 38% and 40% respectively.

 A combination file photo shows Wells Fargo, Citigbank, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs from Reuters archive.  (credit: REUTERS/FILE PHOTO) A combination file photo shows Wells Fargo, Citigbank, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs from Reuters archive. (credit: REUTERS/FILE PHOTO)

Left-wing support slightly rises, though still low

While just 41% of left-wing respondents said banks and other financial institutions had a positive effect on society, that figure was actually up from 2019, when a mere 37% of respondents agreed with the statement. Left-wing support for large corporations, while just 25%, was up from 23% in 2019. 58% of left-wing respondents said they believe tech companies have a positive impact – the same figure as in 2019.

Small businesses vs corporations 

While corporations have reached a high in unfavorability, small businesses continue to be seen as essential to American society. A staggering 80% of respondents said they had a positive view on small businesses – far more than the military (62%), K-12 public schools (55%) and religious organizations (53%).

Further, support for small businesses has proven to be bipartisan, with 79% of republicans and 83% of democrats saying small business impact society positively. When it came to religious organizations, technology companies, K-12 schools, labor unions and—most notably—colleges and universities, left-wing and right-wing respondents had tremendous ideological differences.

Despite ideological differences on most topics mentioned in the survey, left-wing and right-wing respondents largely agreed that large corporations and financial institutions have done more harm than good in recent times – as opposed to small businesses, which many see as a fundamental bedrock of American society.