The Corner

Americans Like It Big . . . or Do They?

A USA Today headline declares: “Most Americans OK with Big Government, at least for now.” But a friend e-mails: 

I can’t find the raw data anywhere on the website, but despite the headline, the poll shows that there has actually been a (slight) increase in respondents who say that the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. While it’s 50-42 now, Gallup’s March poll on the topic had the number at 47-42. While that increase is likely within the margin of error, more people now than in early March believe the government is doing too much. According to the graphic that went with the piece, most people (by a margin of 55-33) believe there is “too much government spending” too.  The NYT/CBS poll from last week shows a similar margin: respondents, by a margin of 48-41, prefer smaller government; that’s also an increase: up from 43-43 in April of last year.

And again, while I don’t have the raw data from the poll USA Today wrote about, the March 12 Gallup poll showed the party differences, and there are huge differences by party. Independents, for example, mirror the national number—by a margin of 50-37, they believe the government is doing too much now—and that’s almost exactly the same as the September 2008 poll (50-40). But there are much wider margins among Republicans (84-11) and Democrats (22-65) as you noted is the case in this most recent poll.

In fact, the only real change has been among Democrats—and it’s got to be based on their feelings for Bush/Obama, not the actual size of government. Here’s why: While there has been a MASSIVE expansion of government since September 2008, a third less Democrats in the March 2009 poll now believe the government is doing too much (22 now, 33 then). Republicans still believe the government is doing too much (84 now, 78 in September) and independents are unchanged. But significantly fewer Democrats now believe that the government is doing too much (though, oddly, about the same about of Democrats believe the government should do more).

Anyway, I’ll review the raw data when I get it, but it sure looks like Americans still don’t like too much government control.

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