Fifty-two percent (52%) of voters believe the federal government today is too powerful. A new ScottRasmussen.com survey found that just 19% say it’s not powerful enough while 29% aren’t sure. Sixty-three percent (63%) of men believe it is too powerful along with 42% of women (see crosstab results).
Generally speaking, 71% think a too powerful government represents a bigger potential problem than a government that is too weak.
Still, voters remain closely divided on the question of whether it’s more important for government to protect individual freedom or to protect an orderly society. Fifty-five percent (55%) want the government to place a higher priority on protecting freedom while 45% say an orderly society is the higher goal.
American preference for a government that values individual freedom over an orderly society does not change with party identification. An identical 58% of Republicans and Democrats both say it’s more important for government to protect those individual freedoms.
But there is an interesting generation gap. Younger voters aged 18-to-34 are the only age group where a majority of respondents (52%) say it’s more important for a government to protect an orderly society. Their elders place a higher priority on protecting individual freedom.
Women are are split down the middle with 50% favoring a government that makes a priority out of protecting individual freedom and 50% choosing one that primarily protects an orderly society. Men are more likely to think that protecting freedom is the more important goal.
At 49%, an equal number of Republicans and Democrats both say that the federal government is too powerful today. Twenty-five percent (25%) of Republicans and 20% of Democrats say it’s not powerful enough.
On this question most younger voters basically agree with respondents overall, with 51% of Americans aged 18-to-34 saying the federal government is too powerful and just 17% saying it’s not powerful enough.
Female voters are the group that strays most notably from this consensus, with only 42% of women saying the federal government is too powerful. But more female voters still say it’s too powerful than the 36% who say it’s not powerful enough.
Questions about federal government power are prominent in the news now that President Trump may sidestep Congress and use a national emergency declaration to build a border wall or barrier. There is also growing attention being paid to newly-elected Congressional Democrats who are openly calling for more government control of the economy and health insurance market.
The mission of ScottRasmussen.com is to enhance the public dialogue through data-driven analysis that explores the underlying currents of public opinion (read About Us). We release new polling data daily, including updates of the president’s Job Approval Rating and the Generic Congressional Ballot.
This national survey of 1,001 Registered Voters was conducted January 11-12, 2019 for ScottRasmussen.com by HarrisX, a leading research company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology and the Demographic profile of our sample). The Margin of Error is +/- 3.1 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
Neither Scott Rasmussen nor ScottRasmussen.com has any relationship with Rasmussen Reports® (see About Us).