50% Say Federal Government is too Powerful, 17% Say Not Powerful Enough

Fifty percent (50%) of voters believe the federal government today is too powerful. A new ScottRasmussen.com survey found that just 17% say it’s not powerful enough while 33% aren’t sure. These figures have changed little since January . Fifty-six percent (56%) of men believe it is too powerful along with 44% of women  (see crosstab results).

The fact that so few believe we need a more powerful federal government is consistent with a wide range of other data. Voters, for example, see climate change as a threat, but just 18% of voters believe that threat makes it necessary to give the federal government sweeping new powers to control the economy.  Most Americans also want something done to fix our health care system. However, just 17% favor eliminating private health insurance companies and requiring every American to use a government insurance program.

Generally speaking,  73% think a too powerful government represents a bigger potential problem than a government that is too weak. Just 27% hold the opposite view.

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-seven percent (57%) want the government to place a higher priority on protecting freedom while 43% 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 56% of Republicans and Independents both say it’s more important for government to protect those individual freedoms. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democrats agree.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of Republicans, 50% of Democrats, and 47% of Independents believe that the federal government is too powerful today.

Data released earlier shows that 94% of voters agree with a sentiment sometimes defined as the American Creed: Every American should have the right to live their own life as they see fit, so long as they respect the rights of others to do the same.

However, while cherishing the ideal, there are doubts about how well we live out that creed. Only 53% believe that most Americans respect the right of other people to live their own life as they see fit.

Even more skepticism is found about the federal government. Just 33% believe that it respects the right of every American to live their own life as they see fit. Sixty-seven percent (67%) do not believe the federal government supports this key belief. That’s especially stunning because our nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, states that the very purpose of government is to protect our unalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Related data on the role of the federal government in society showed that 71% recognize that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have had a bigger impact on the world than all eight U.S. presidents who have served since the founding of Apple and Microsoft.

The reality that culture and technology lead the nation forward while politics and politicians lag behind is a central theme in my most recent book: The Sun is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed But America Will Not. Among other factors, the book notes that even in the 21st century, our nation retains a deep cultural commitment to the nation’s founding ideals of freedom, equality, and self-governance. It is this commitment that makes me optimistic about our nation despite the failures of our political system.

ScottRasmussen.com releases new public opinion data every day relating to topics in the news and other items of interest. Please sign up to receive the latest data and insights each day via email. 

We also provide daily updates on the president’s job approval and the generic congressional ballot. It’s all part of our mission to enhance the public dialogue through data-driven analysis that explores the underlying currents of public opinion (read About Us).

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The national survey of 1,001 Registered Voters was conducted April 12-13, 2019 by ScottRasmussen.com and HarrisX, a polling company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology). It has a 3.1 percentage point Margin of Error with a 95% level of confidence.

Neither Scott Rasmussen nor ScottRasmussen.com has any relationship with Rasmussen Reports® (see About Us).

Posted in Poll Results

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