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Low-Income Republicans Say Government Does Too Little for Poor People: Pew Survey

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Voters cheer Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich during an event Jan. 28 in Florida.
Voters cheer Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich during an event Jan. 28 in Florida.

Low-income Republican voters say the government does too little for poor people, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Over half of Republican-leaning registered voters earning less than $30,000 a year -- 57 percent -- say the government doesn't do enough to help the poor, while only 18 percent of these say it does too much, Pew found. By contrast, of Republican voters earning more than $75,000 annually, 44 percent say the government does too much for the poor, while 21 percent say it does too little.

Nevertheless, the survey finds low-income Republicans distrust the government almost just as much as their more wealthy counterparts. Eighty-five percent of poorer conservatives said they trust the government "only some of the time" or "never," compared with 91 percent for wealthier Republican voters.

The poorer voters surveyed were much more likely to agree, however, with the statement that "a few rich people and corporations have too much power in the U.S." Among low-income Republicans polled, 70 percent agreed with that statement, compared with just 39 percent of wealthier likely Republican voters.

Though the survey was conducted early in October, its results come on the heels of Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney's latest disarmingly candid statement on his priorities.

"I'm not concerned about the very poor," former Massachusetts Gov. Romney said on Wednesday. "We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it."

Low-income Americans do benefit from a variety of programs, but the safety net doesn't catch everyone.

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