Now that the bulk of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic is over, Americans are ready for the US government to relinquish much of the control it has gained in a bid to “slow the spread.”
According to a Gallup poll released Thursday, 52% of Americans believe the government “is doing too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses.” Fifty-four percent say the government has “too much power”.
The attitude of Americans has changed since last year, when a majority of Americans – 54% – said the government should do more to fix the problems. The poll report attributed the change to the desire for more security during the pandemic.
“Last year marked only the second time in Gallup’s 29-year trend that at least half of Americans have taken an active role for government on this issue,” according to the poll report. “The other pro-government response came in the weeks following the September 11 terrorist attacks amid heightened concern over terrorism and increased confidence in the government.”
Notably, Republicans rarely wanted more government, even during crises. Democrats and Independents, however, have changed a great deal over the years. In 2020, 56% of independents wanted the government to do more to fix the problems, up from 38% currently – even less than 45% before the pandemic started in 2019.
Americans also prefer a “limited role of government” when it comes to trade-offs between taxes and government services. Half of Americans say they prefer fewer services and lower taxes, while 19% want more services and higher taxes – 29% want both to stay the same as they are today. Unsurprisingly, Democrats favor higher taxes and more services than Republicans. Also, according to the report:
In the five times Gallup has asked this question since 1993, the preference for lower taxes and fewer services has always prevailed, held by pluralities or majorities of Americans, including a high of 56% in 2011. 2019 , said they wanted higher taxes and more services.
Since 2005, a majority of Americans have argued that the government has too much power, peaking at 60% in 2013 and 2015 under President Barrack Obama. Few Americans have “ever said the government has too little power.”
Even though Americans’ views on the power of the federal government have not changed much since 2019, political views have recalibrated since Joe Biden became president, succeeding former President Donald Trump. According to the poll, the difference between the parties was much smaller two years ago, with 61% of Republicans, 57% of Independents and 51% of Democrats saying the government had too much power.
Today, 82% of Republicans, 59% of Independents, and 19% of Democrats say the government has too much power. Most Democrats – 63% – say the government has “the right amount of power.”
Over the past year, the percentage of Americans who perceive too much government regulation of business and industry has increased by seven percentage points, from 36% in 2020 to 43% in 2021. According to the report, the change is comparable to the last time a Democrat was elected president after a Republican. When Obama became president after George W. Bush, the percentage also increased by seven points, from 38% to 45%.
In contrast, Americans were happier under President Trump – in his second year in office, the number of Americans who thought the government was too involved in regulating business rose from 47% in 2016 to 39%. in 2018. The report concluded:
More and more Americans generally prefer a limited government role to an active one, believe that there is too much rather than too little regulation of business, and believe that government is too powerful. The COVID-19 situation and the Trump administration’s response in 2020 may have briefly changed Americans’ perspective on the proper role of government, but whatever effect it has had, it has. now gone.
The survey was conducted from September 1 to 17 among 1,005 adults and has a margin of sampling error of ± 4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.