Rising Number Believe There Is Conflict Between Rich and Poor

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A new survey by the Pew Research Center found that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that the tension between the rich and poor is the greatest cause of tension in America. The survey's major question asked, "In America, how much conflict is there between poor people and rich people?"

Whether respondents viewed that division as the "1 percent" and "99 percent," or the difference between shopping at Target or Macy's, was up to each individual's imagination.

In the 2009 survey, when 47 percent observed strong tension between classes, Americans considered immigration the most significant source of social conflict.

Some more of the nitty-gritty, from the AP:

About 3 in 10 Americans polled said there are "very strong" conflicts between the rich and poor, according to the independent research group. That is double the share who believed so in July 2009 and the largest proportion reporting that view in the 24 years the question has been asked in surveys.

In all, about 66 percent of those polled now say there are "very strong" or "strong" conflicts between the top and bottom income groups.

Pew research analyst Richard Morin reasonably posited that the perceived tension is partly a result of the Occupy Wall Street movement. "But the changes also may reflect a growing public awareness of underlying shifts in the distribution of wealth in American society," he said.

And one finding of special importance for the presidential candidates: The biggest increase in perceived class conflict was among Independents, which jumped 23 points to 68 percent.