The GOP, small-government conservatism, and public opinion

Liberal Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent points to a new Pew poll showing majorities favoring tax increases on those earning over $250,000 and opposing cuts to entitlements, and sees a deep problem for Republicans. …

To start, it’s always important to recognize that poll results depend on what questions the pollsters ask. On election night, even as President Obama coasted to reelection, Politico reported that according to exit polls, “53 percent of those surveyed said the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals — a figure that’s risen 10 points since the 2008 election. Comparatively, 41 percent of voters said they believe government should be doing more.” This isn’t to ignore the other polling data that is discouraging for small government conservatism, but to question the idea that there’s some sort of fundamental shift toward support of big government.

It’s also important to recognize that a poll is a snapshot in time. It isn’t surprising to me that right now, most Americans would prefer raising taxes on two percent of taxpayers and avoiding cuts to entitlements. … Let’s see how polls turn out when middle class Americans are asked whether they want to pay significantly higher taxes in order to minimize cuts to entitlement programs, or how they’ll feel when interest rates and inflation are soaring as a result of the national debt.