Poll Finds Banks Are Too Big, Most Americans Say

04/01/2013 04:27 pm ET | Updated Apr 01, 2013

Most Americans think banks have grown too big, but many are uncertain about what to do about it, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said that banks and other financial institutions have become too large and powerful, while only 17 percent said their size is appropriate. By a 38 percent to 22 percent margin, Americans were also more likely to favor than oppose a law to cap the size of banks and break the largest ones into smaller components. But another 40 percent said they were not sure about that proposal.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has said that he will introduce legislation to split banks apart, declaring of the largest, "If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist."

The opinion that many financial institutions have grown too big was shared by majorities of Democrats (68 percent), independents (61 percent) and Republicans (51 percent). But while Democrats and independents were more likely to say they favored breaking up the biggest banks, a plurality of Republicans said they opposed the plan (by 38 percent to 30 percent).

The new poll found that Americans have little faith in the financial sector almost five years after the 2008 financial crisis. Only 9 percent of respondents said they have a lot of confidence in banks and other financial institutions, while 42 percent have some confidence, 32 percent don't have much confidence, and 11 percent have no confidence at all.

Furthermore, 75 percent of respondents said that it's either very or somewhat likely that the country could have another financial crisis in the near future. Only 12 percent said it was not very likely, and only 2 percent said it was not at all likely.

So it's not surprising that 43 percent of Americans said current federal financial regulations don't go far enough. Nineteen percent said they go too far and 15 percent said they're about right.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted March 27-28 among 1,000 U.S. adults. The poll used 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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