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More Americans than ever — including Republicans — want bigger government: poll

The GOP has long touted itself as the party of small government. A recent NBC/WSJ poll revealed that Republican support for bigger government has doubled over the last eight years. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

The tweet Tuesday from NBC News senior political editor Mark Murray said it all: "The Era Of Opposition To Big Government Is Over."

According to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the share of Americans who support a bigger, more active government has reached an all-time high in the history of the poll.

The survey revealed that 58 percent of U.S. voters want the government to do more to solve problems and meet people's needs, while only 38 percent say the government is doing too much — which ties a record low set in September 2007.

When the poll began in 1995, the numbers were inverted — only a third (32 percent) of Americans wanted a larger government, while nearly two-thirds (62 percent) said more should be left to businesses and individuals.

Of course more Democrats want bigger government, but not more Republicans — right?

The explosion of support for bigger government is seen across party lines. NBC News reported that 81 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents, and 33 percent of Republicans told pollsters they'd like do see the government do more.

In fact, over the last eight years, while Democrats have predictably moved toward bigger government (up 13 points), the share of the GOP that backs a larger state has essentially doubled.

During the beginning of the second year of President Barack Obama's administration, when Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, GOP support for a more active government stood at 17 percent.

Today, at the beginning of President Donald Trump's second year in office, when Republicans control the White House and both Houses of Congress, nearly twice as many Republican voters support bigger government.

This writer's perspective

Principles are funny thing. They're supposed to be unchanging, unwavering. They're supposed to be the bedrock for our lives — and by extension, our politics.

Since the day Donald Trump announced his run for the White House, we have seen a disheartening number of members of the so-called conservative, small-government party suddenly become seemingly OK with things they've long opposed — from protectionist trade policies to marital infidelity. So we probably shouldn't be too surprised when many Republican voters' views on big government turn on a dime when the GOP controls the levers of power.

It wasn't long ago that many of these same people created homemade signs, donned colonial outfits, and took to the streets as the modern-day Tea Party, demanding that government get out of their lives.

Good times.

When Democrats inevitably take over the government one day — whether that starts with the 2018 midterm wave election Republicans fear or a few years from now — it will be interesting to see if the GOP and its voters suddenly return to their small-government "principles."

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