Most Americans think government has ‘too much’ power

Most Americans think government has ‘too much’ power
Tue Sep 24, 2013 23:06:18

More than half of Americans believe their federal government holds more than normal amount of power, a new Gallup poll shows.

Six in 10 Americans (60%) believe the government has too much power, one percentage point above the previous high recorded in September 2010.

Thirty-two percent say the government has the right amount of power. Few say it has too little power.

These most recent data come from Gallup’s Governance survey, conducted Sept. 5-8.

The 7% who feel the government has too little power has been mostly steady since Gallup started tracking the measure regularly in 2002.

The Gallup said recent survey implied that Americans -- specifically Republicans and Democrats -- have become more divided in their perceptions of federal power since the end of the Bush administration.

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.

Overall, Republicans, Democrats, and independents have each grown more likely to say government is too powerful this year.

The survey also hints altering perception of government’s power between Republicans and democrats every time the other side is in power.

More Republicans (81%) say the current government which is headed by a Democrat president has too much power, while only 36% Democrats agree.

Though Republicans tend to be more skeptical of government overall, this concern was tempered while President Bush was in office. However, Republicans' concern reached new highs when Obama took office in 2009.

On the other hand, though Democrats tend to be more comfortable with a more active government, more than half became concerned with the US government's power toward the end of the Bush years.

The presence of a Democratic president in office likely leads Republicans to feel especially skeptical of -- and Democrats especially comfortable with -- the amount of power the federal government holds, leading to the large gap between the parties seen during Obama's presidency.