This week, a group of individuals on Reddit organized a financial surge for struggling stocks — including GameStop and AMC Theaters — that large investors had overwhelmingly bet against. The Redditors’ ability to manipulate the market against investors has sent Wall Street into turmoil as career money managers faced unexpected losses.
Three-quarters of Americans (77%) have heard a lot (37%) or a little (40%) about the surge in GameStop stock, according to new YouGov data. Americans are twice as likely to describe the individual investors who drove up the value of GameStop stock in an attempt to make Wall Street investors lose money as heroes (30%) rather than villains (15%). About three in 10 Americans (29%) say the Redditors are neither heroes nor villains, and one-quarter (26%) are not certain.
A similar number of Democrats (32%), Independents (31%), and Republicans (30%) call the individuals heroes. Two in five Republicans (21%) view them as villains, compared to 16% of Independents and 13% of Democrats who say the same. Most in each partisan group say the individuals fall into neither category or they are not sure.
Americans of all incomes tend to see the individuals as more heroic than villainous. Three in 10 adults (28%) with a household income of $80,000 or more annually consider them champions, compared to 14% who say they are villains. Those making between $40,000 to $80,000 (23% vs 15%) or less than $40,000 (20% vs 13%) also view them more positively.
The push against Wall Street is reflected in a larger belief that all Americans are not given fair and equal access to the financial system. A majority of adults (58%) believe that Wall Street investors get more privileged access to the investment market than individual investors. Just one in eight Americans (12%) believe access is fair and equal, and only 4% believe solo investors have the upper hand.
This belief is seen across all political parties: three in five Democrats (62%) and Independents (63%) say Wall Street is given the advantage. Half of Republicans (50%) agree, while one in five (20%) say that the financial system provides equal access to all.
Methodology: 4,850 US adults aged 18+ were asked “The price of stock in the company GameStop surged this week after a group of individuals on Reddit drove up the value of the company in an attempt to make Wall Street investors who bet against the company lose money. Would you consider this group of individuals to be heroes or villains?” The response options were: “Heroes,” “Villains, “Neither,” and “Don’t know.” The survey was conducted between January 28 – 29, 2021. The responding sample is weighted to provide a representative sample of the United States.