The number of Americans who believe that the federal government has grown too large and powerful has reached an all-time high, according to a new Gallup survey.
Six in 10 people surveyed by the polling firm believe that the government has become monolithic, 1 percentage point above September 2010’s previous all-time high.
Roughly 32 percent of respondents said the government has just the right amount of power and only seven percent said the government has too little.
The 7 percent who would like to see the government take on a larger role has actually been fairly consistent in this belief, according to Gallup data dating back to at least 2002.
Roughly half of the respondents since 2005 have said the government has too much power:
Respondents who self-identify as Republicans differ greatly in opinion from respondents who self-identify as Democrats.
Eighty-one percent of self-identified Republicans said the government has too much power while only 38 percent of self-identified Democrats believe the feds are too powerful.
It’s also worth pointing out that the number of Republicans, Democrats and independents who believe government has become too powerful grew in 2013.
Still, as Gallup’s data indicates, Republicans and Democrats have become more polarized in their opinions of government since the 2008 presidential election, the former increasing in its distrust of government and the latter becoming more comfortable with government.
But what’s really interesting is that if you go back and look at polling data from George W. Bush’s presidency, Democrats and Republicans actually agreed on their view of the government and power.
In fact, as the following graph shows, Democrats and Republicans both grew cautious of government’s power as the Bush presidency wore on. It wasn’t until about 2008 that Democrats suddenly decided government wasn’t all that powerful:
So what’s the takeaway? Well, clearly, Democrats and Republicans view government differently.
“Within a year of Obama’s inauguration, Republicans’ and Democrats’ views on the issue diverged dramatically, leaving a gulf between the parties that remains today — though the current 43-point partisan gap is smaller than the 53-point gap measured in the fall of 2009,” Gallup noted.
Republicans historically tend to be skeptical of government while Democrats tend to be comfortable with government taking an active role in society. Of course, as the data shows, these numbers tend to fluctuate depending on which party holds the White House.
(H/T: Weasel Zippers). Featured image Getty Images.
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