A majority of Americans say that the government is doing too many things as it tries to mend the nation’s problems and they favor a more hands-off approach, according to a new national poll.
Fifty-two percent of those questioned in a Gallup poll released on Thursday said that the government’s doing too many things that should be dealt with by businesses and individuals, with 43% saying the government needs to do more to address the country’s problems. That’s a switch from a year ago, when 54% said the government should do more and 41% disagreed.
The responses came as part of Gallup’s annual Governance survey, which this year was conducted Sept. 1-17.
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“The shift toward favoring a more active government role in 2020 was seen among Democrats and independents but not Republicans — likely a response to the coronavirus pandemic and in particular to then-President Donald Trump’s approach to handling it,” the release from Gallup stated. “Trump generally opposed government efforts designed to slow the spread of the virus, such as face mask requirements and business and school closures.”
The big swing between 2020 and 2021 was independent voters. The percentage of independents who said the government’s doing too many things jumped form 38% in 2020 to 57% this year. Republicans edged up from 74% to 80% and Democrats crept up from 13% to 18%.
Gallup noted that last year marked only the second time in the polling organization’s 29 years of asking the question that at least half of Americans supported an active role for government. The other time occurred in 2001, in the weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which briefly united the politically divided country as Americans rallied around the government.
The poll also indicates that half of all Americans prefer fewer government services and lower taxes, while 19% said they support higher taxes and more government services. Nearly three in ten said they wanted the current balance between services and taxes to continue.
“In the five times Gallup has asked this question since 1993, the preference for lower taxes and fewer services has consistently prevailed, held either by pluralities or majorities of Americans, including a high of 56% in 2011,” Gallup noted. “Only as many as 25%, in 2019, have said they wanted higher taxes and more services.”
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Gallup also highlighted that 54% said the federal government has too much power, basically unchanged from 56% who said the same thing the last time the question was asked in 2019.
Gallup questioned 1,005 adults nationwide for the poll. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.