Rasmussen poll: the end of activist government?
posted at 10:55 am on June 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
In a certain sense, the latest Rasmussen poll should be subtitled, “Duh!” Almost two-thirds believe that politicians want more money and power for government, and only slightly less believe government should have less instead of more. However, while that seems like a platitude, the breadth of that belief in the electorate may be the story of the midterm elections:
When it comes to money and power, politicians want the government to have more of it, while voters want the government to have less. At least that’s what most Americans think.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 62% of Adults nationwide say most politicians want more power and money for the government. Just 13% believe the opposite is true.
At the same time, 58% believe that most voters want the government to have less power and money. Only 22% believe most voters hold the opposite view and want a bigger role for government.
Only 22% want a more activist government? If that surprises, perhaps it shouldn’t. Over the last four years, a Democratic Congress has vastly escalated spending; in the past two, they have had a Democratic President that has allowed even more government expansion. The bills have started to come due, and people are aghast at the debt that this kind of activist government creates. They may have wanted government freebies, but it’s clear now that nothing comes for free.
What’s remarkable is how mainstream this has become. Only 14% support the current status quo, and no demographic has more than 23% happy with the current balance of power and money between government and the private sector.
No one will be shocked to find that 66% of Republicans think government should have less power and money, although some may be shocked to see 24% of Republicans want government to have more money and power. Independents are actually better than Republicans on the question, 61/15, although 15% support the status quo as opposed to 5% of Republicans. Even Democrats have a plurality that thinks government has too much money and power now as opposed to too little, 48/27, with 21% supporting the status quo. The youngest voters — those who provided the basis of enthusiasm for Obama and the Democrats in 2008 — now think that government has too much money and power, 47/35, with 19% supporting the status quo.
The bottom line from this poll is that the arc of liberalism has run into the ground. The overwhelming consensus, across all age, income, ethnic, and even partisan backgrounds is that government has too much money and power. Candidates have the best environment in perhaps a generation to argue for limited government, reduction in spending and services, and a return to fiscal sanity.
Update: The poll is worded oddly, as is noted in the comments. It asks voters to say what they think other people believe. However, most people tend to project their own views on the electorate as a whole, and it’s still telling that 48% of Democrats agree that Americans want government to have less money and power, while only 27% think the opposite. Whichever way one looks at it, neither the status quo nor the idea that government needs more money and power are in the mainstream any longer. The mainstream, as acknowledged by wide majorities, is for more limited government.