Who Will Gain Influence in Obama Era?

NEW YORK Who will gain influence and who will lose it in Washington when the Obama Administration takes power?

A poll this month for the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press took a look at public opinion on the matter. Among the biggest losers, according to respondents, will be corporations. Forty-two percent of those polled expect corporations to lose influence, vs. 29 percent expecting them to gain. (The rest don’t anticipate a change one way or another.)

By comparison, 46 percent expect union leaders to gain influence under the new regime, vs. 18 percent saying these leaders will lose power.

The numbers were lopsidedly negative for “wealthy people,” with 44 percent of respondents believing they’ll lose influence, vs. 17 percent thinking they’ll gain it. Rich Americans are certainly less numerous now than they were before the financial meltdown, so one would expect them to be less influential for that reason alone.

Respondents were more likely to see older people gaining clout than losing it (39 percent vs. 19 percent). But a far larger number said they foresee younger people becoming more influential (71 percent, vs. a mere 4 percent thinking they’ll lose influence).

Majorities of those polled also expect to see greater influence wielded by poor people (73 percent), black people (67 percent), children (64 percent), environmentalists (60 percent) and women (58 percent). And what about “people like yourself”? A plurality of those polled think this sterling cohort will gain influence (47 percent) rather than lose it (18 percent).

Other net gainers, according to respondents, will include Hispanic Americans, gays/lesbians and (by a narrow margin) the military. Other net losers: conservative Christians and Washington lobbyists.