Most Americans Think Executives' Pay Is Too High, Poll Shows

Two-thirds of Americans think that top corporate executives and CEOs are paid too much, and few Americans think they will ever enter the ranks of the highest paid, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

The poll was conducted as part of a new Huffington Post project called Pay Pals, a database of the salaries paid to top executives and board members at every Fortune 100 company.

According to the new poll, 66 percent of Americans think the pay of top corporate executives and CEOs is too high, while only 18 percent think their pay is appropriate. Two percent said that executives' pay is too low.

A majority of Americans in the new survey from across the political spectrum agreed that executives' pay is too high -- 79 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents and 58 percent of Republicans.

And even among Americans in the highest household income bracket in the poll -- those making more than $100,000 a year -- 65 percent agreed that executives' pay it too high.

Most Americans think the government is doing too much to help the companies that pay CEOs so much.

By a 57 percent to 3 percent margin, most Americans in the poll said that the government should be doing more to help the poor rather than helping major corporations (30 percent said it shouldn't help either more than the other). But by an even larger margin, 71 percent to 14 percent, most said they think the government is actually doing more to help major corporations than the poor.

To the vast majority of Americans, the idea of entering the ranks of the very top earners seems like an impossibility, the poll shows. Seventy-six percent of Americans said they did not foresee a possibility of becoming part of the top 1 percent of top earners in the country, while only 11 percent said it was possible that they would.

Two percent of Americans said they considered themselves in the top 1 percent of earners now, and another 4 percent said they had been in the past but weren't anymore.

Far more Americans see themselves nearer to the bottom of the income scale than the top, the poll shows. Only a combined 16 percent of Americans consider themselves either upper class (3 percent) or upper middle class (13 percent). But a combined 46 percent said they are either lower middle class (34 percent) or lower class (12 percent). Thirty-three percent said they consider are just plain middle class.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Feb. 6-7 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.

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