In 1986, an NBC.News/Wall St. Journal poll asked "Do you think Congress should pass legislation limiting the amount of interest credit card companies can charge, even if that means it would be much harder for people like you to get credit?" 73% said yes, 20% said no, and 6% didn't know.
I looked at the relation of opinions to a number of demographic factors. The only ones that made a significant difference were education and age: more educated people and younger people were more likely to oppose a limit.*
Why am I writing about a forgotten issue from almost 30 years ago? A number of conservatives, notably Ross Douthat, have been making a case for "libertarian populism." The idea is that programs that are supposed to help the working and middle class usually get "captured" by well-connected interest groups. As a result, they wind up helping the rich, or maybe a minority the middle class (e. g., those notorious unionized public sector workers), while reducing opportunity for most of the working and middle classes. So the best way to help the working and middle classes is to rely on competition and markets. Setting aside the merits of the idea, I have been interested in whether it can be populist and have been looking for potentially relevant questions. There aren't many, but this one is of interest as a good measure of belief in the market.
There are a lot of issues on which you can make arguments for regulation based on bilateral monopoly or asymmetric information, but this isn't one of them. There are a lot of credit cards offering different terms (and there were even in 1986), there's no long-term commitment, and the idea of a higher interest rate is pretty easy to grasp. So the only justifications for government action are paternalism--the idea that some people won't be able to make good decisions--or just not believing that markets work.
But even though the question has a clear statement of the argument against regulation, the great majority of the public supports it. Also, the people who are least likely to favor limits are not those who are at greatest risk of losing access to credit, but those who have been exposed to the influence of higher education.
Things may have changed since 1986, but I doubt it. The free-market argument rests on a paradox, so it's most likely to appeal to intellectuals, or at least those who've been exposed to the influence of intellectuals. (See this previous post for more information pointing in that direction).
*The survey also asked people if they had a credit card. Among those who did, education influenced opinions but age didn't seem to matter; among those who didn't, age influenced opinions but education didn't seem to matter. I can't think of a good explanation for this pattern.
[Data Source: Roper Center for Public Opinion Research]