Since President Obama took office in January, every poll (I’ve seen) measuring popular support on the relative levels of federal spending shows a substantial majority or considerable plurality preferring reducing the size of the government to increasing expenditures. The latest Gallup poll confirms what we’ve been observing these past eight months (and even before):
57% of Americans say the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to businesses and individuals, and 45% say there is too much government regulation of business. Both reflect the highest such readings in more than a decade.
Frank Newport, who wrote Gallup’s analysis of these statistics notes that the
57% level of public concern about big government in this survey is, among other things, coincident with an extensively increased government involvement in the economy, and the extensive focus on a large-scale government effort to reform healthcare that was underway as this survey was being conducted.
So, it does seem the Tea Parties represent a genuine grassroots movement, representing the real concerns of Americans.
In a second question, a plurality (45%) though there was too much government regulation of business and industry whereas 24% thought there was too little. Of those, Newport notes that all “of the change [since the September 2008 poll] in the ‘too much regulation’ direction came among Republicans and independents.” A sign that Republicans and independents are now moving in the same direction. And a reminder to Republicans to return to those ideas the Gipper championed in his political career (in which he never lost an election to a Democrat).No wonder Reagan was so successful. Americans are naturally averse to big government:
A plurality of Americans, and often a majority, has tilted toward the “government is trying to do too much” position over the past 17 years. In fact, in Gallup’s history of asking this question, only in 1992, 1993, and October 2001 (just weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks) did larger percentages of Americans say the “government should do more” than said the government was doing too much.
A third question asked whether Americans thought “the federal government today has too much power, has about the right amount of power, or has too little power.” Only 8% thought it had too little power, while a majority thought it had too much power.
A reminder to Republicans that if we want to rebuild, we need appeal to that majority of Americans who would like government to do less.
UPDATE: Byron York observes:
The last time the number of people who believe government is doing too much hit 57 percent was in October 1994, shortly before voters threw Democrats out of power in both the House and Senate.
If current polling trends continues, come next November, the number will be even higher, then increasing the chances of a party favoring smaller government