Weekly Reason-Rupe Surveys Archive 2011 August 29-31

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Exploring Real Attitudes Toward Entitlement Reform

The latest Reason-Rupe survey results reveal diverse attitudes toward Social Security and Medicare and towards the potential for reform.

Overwhelmingly, Americans view Social Security and Medicare as “contributive” programs, meaning that they believe that all Americans who contributed should be rewarded by receiving their benefits.

This conceptualization of entitlements as “contributive” rather than “redistributive” was explored and discussed in a previous post. Our findings reveal that a majority of Americans are open to entitlement reform as long as they are guaranteed to receive the money they have already contributed into the two programs.

This also helps potentially explain why 67 percent of Americans oppose raising the retirement age. If a majority of Americans view these programs as contributive and essentially a contract with the government, it explains why they would not want the government to change the terms of the contract for when they start getting their money back.

When asked what the Social Security retirement age should be, results ranged from 65 to 75, with a median of 65.

Nevertheless, Americans favor allowing individuals to opt out of the programs if they choose.

In part, this result is likely driven by the 60 percent of individuals who believe that they are primarily responsible for saving enough money to meet basic expenses in retirement. However, only 43 percent believe they are personally responsible for saving enough money to purchase health insurance in retirement.

Most Americans are also not convinced that they will receive back the money they have already contributed to the Social Security system. Retirees, however, are more confident that they will continue to receive expected benefits, in contrast to those who have not yet retired.

Expectations for Social Security Benefits

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Clickhere for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology.

Americans Are Open to Reforming Social Security and Medicare

According to a recent Reason-Rupe poll, a majority of Americans favor reforming Social Security (61 percent) and Medicare (59 percent) if they are guaranteed to get back what they originally contributed into the system. This reveals important information about how the public conceptualizes entitlements in general and what policymakers must consider in order to reform the system. Moreover, a majority of people would also favor allowing workers to opt out of Social Security (54 percent) and Medicare (56 percent).

These results conflict significantly with the findings of other polls. The following will explain why.

Media poll after poll after poll, as well as left-leaning polls and right-leaning polls, have clearly demonstrated that the public does not want to cut spending for two of the largest federal programs: Social Security and Medicare. The media and political class have understandably come to theconclusion that, “It has become a maxim of U.S. politics that Americans approve of cutting spending in concept but disapprove of cutting specific programs.” The Associated Press explains its AP-GfK poll results by arguing that “most Americans say they don't believe Medicare has to be cut to balance the federal budget, and ditto for Social Security." If one were to digest all of the commentary and polling data, one would likely conclude that not cutting Social Security or Medicare is one of the few things that most Americans agree on.

Moreover, as Fox Business Channel host John Stossel pointed out recently on his show, even among Tea Party supporters, 62 percent believe entitlements are worth the costs, compared to 33 percent of those who said entitlements are not worth it. This suggests hypocrisy among the movement that is most vocal about reducing the size of government.

Recent results from the Reason-Rupe poll dig deeper into American attitudes to reveal why these aforementioned survey questions do not get at how Americans actually conceptualize these programs. In fact, our results show that a majority of Americans are open to entitlement reform.

We started by asking the standard questions asked in the aforementioned polls:

“Would you be willing to have your current or future Social Security benefits reduced as part of a plan to balance the federal budget or ensure the Social Security program remains in place for future retirees?”

Not surprisingly, a similar proportion (57 percent) oppose.

“Would you be willing to have your current or future Medicare benefits reduced as part of a plan to balance the federal budget or ensure Medicare remains in place for future retirees?"

Again, not surprisingly, a similar proportion (51 percent) oppose.

However, we next asked if respondents would favor reductions in their Social Security and Medicare benefits if they were still guaranteed to receive at least the amount of money that they have contributed into the system. (Please review Methodology Detail below)

Interestingly our results flipped, with 61 percent and 59 percent, respectively, agreeing.

Social Security

Would you be willing to have your current or future Social Security benefits reduced as part of a plan to balance the federal budget or ensure the Social Security program remains in place for future retirees?/or if you were still guaranteed to receive at least the amount of money that you have contributed into the system?

Medicare

Would you be willing to have your current or future Medicare benefits reduced as part of a plan to balance the federal budget or ensure Medicare remains in place for future retirees?/ or if you were  still guaranteed to receive at least the amount of money that you have contributed into the system?

Entitlements have two components. The first is a “savings account” component such that individuals contribute money to Social Security and Medicare from their paychecks. Second, entitlements include a redistributive element whereby money from those with higher lifetime earnings is redistributed to those with lower lifetime earnings. These two components muddled together might help explain why both Republicans and Democrats generally favor these programs. According to Gallup data, support for the programs is virtually identical.

Source: Gallup

However, most poll questions that ask about reducing entitlement spending do not distinguish between these two components of the program. Moreover, it is not obvious that just because a person favors a Social Security savings account that they also favor having their income redistributed. The Reason-Rupe poll’s findings suggest that when these two components are disentangled, Americans care most about getting back the money they contributed to the system. They would even be willing to cut additional benefits they may have received, as long as they get what they earned and contributed. This shows that support for entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare is largely driven by the “contributive” component rather than the redistributive component.

Understanding how the two separate components drive support for Social Security and Medicare makes it clear why Americans have appeared so intransigently averse to reform. It does not make sense to most people why government would need to cut Social Security and Medicare after they have already contributed so much of their own money towards the programs. If they had known that the government would renege on its contract, they could have simply put their money in a risk-free low-return savings account, where at least their principal would remain the same.

These findings also undermine the idea that limited government advocates who are adverse to cutting Social Security and Medicare spending are hypocrites. It is not necessarily the case that these individuals want to cut government spending for everyone but themselves; instead, they simply want to recoup the money that they have already contributed to the system. They just want their money back.

Find full results here.

Methodology Detail:

For Social Security

The survey first asked respondents: “Would you be willing to have your current or future Social Security benefits reduced as part of a plan to balance the federal budget or ensure the Social Security program remains in place for future retirees?”

Yes 37
No 57
Don't Know 6
Total 100

Then among those who answered “No” we asked: “Would you be more willing to accept reductions in your current or future Social Security benefits if you were still guaranteed to receive at least the amount of money that you have contributed into the system?”

Yes 43
No 53
Don't Know 4
Total 100

Then we combined those who answered, “Yes” to the first question and those who answered, “Yes” to the second question. This totals the percentage of Americans who would accept reductions in their Social Security benefits as part of a plan to balance the federal budget and/or if they were still guaranteed to receive at least the amount of money that they have already contributed into the system.

Yes 61
No 30
Don't Know 9
Total 100

For Medicare

The survey first asked respondents: “Would you be willing to have your current or future Medicare benefits reduced as part of a plan to balance the federal budget or ensure Medicare remains in place for future retirees?” 

Yes 43
No 51
Don't Know 6
Total 100

Then among those who answered “No” we asked: “Would you be more willing to accept a reduction in your current or future Medicare benefits if you were still guaranteed to receive at least the amount you have contributed into the system?”


Yes 32
No 66
Don't Know 2
Total 100

Then we combined those who answered, “Yes” to the first question and those who answered, “Yes” to the second question. This totals the percentage of Americans who would accept reductions in their Medicare benefits as part of a plan to balance the federal budget and/or if they were still guaranteed to receive at least the amount of money that they have already contributed into the system.

Yes 59
No 33
Don't Know 8
Total 100

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Clickhere for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology.

The Public Is Conflicted Over Where to Place Responsibility for Retirement Savings

The results from the latest Reason-Rupe poll show ostensibly conflicting results about where Americans place the primary responsibility for retirement savings and for health insurance costs during retirement.

When the questions avoid the polarizing context of “entitlement reform” or the explicit mention of Social Security, a clear majority of Americans (60 percent) believe that they are primarily responsible for saving enough money to meet their own basic expenses in retirement. Roughly a third of Americans believe they should primarily expect help from the government to meet basic expenses in retirement.

When the question becomes who “should be primarily responsible for saving enough money to purchase health insurance in retirement,” just 43 percent of respondents believe they should be primarily responsible. Fifty percent believe they should primarily expect help from the government to acquire health insurance. This attitude may stem in part from the current regulatory framework, which makes it easier to obtain health insurance through employers. Thus it might not be clear to many Americans just how they would go about obtaining competitively-priced health insurance in the private market.

Despite these somewhat conflicting numbers, a substantial percentage of Americans do nonetheless believe they are primarily responsible for saving enough money to meet their own basic retirement expenses, including health insurance. This finding should prompt further discussion about reforming these massive programs, since nearly half—if not more than half—of Americans believe responsibility for retirement should lie with the individual.

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology.

Fifty Seven Percent of Americans Believe Cutting Government Spending Will Help the Economy

As explored in our previous post, public sentiment has turned toward cutting government spending. Recent Reason-Rupe poll results help explain why Americans have focused their attention on spending cuts.

First, 69 percent of Americans anticipate their future taxes increasing, and 32 percent say they anticipate their taxes to “increase a lot” over the next five years. Twenty two percent expect their taxes to stay the same and only 6 percent expect their taxes to decrease.

Second, Americans do not expect future tax revenues to be used toward addressing the budget deficit and national debt as promised. Instead, 62 percent believe the government would use higher taxes to spend on new programs, compared to 27 percent who believe new taxes would be spent to reduce the deficit.

Third, most Americans believe that reducing spending will help the U.S. economy. Cutting government spending will undoubtedly help some and hurt some in the short run, but the question was asked about the net impact of reduced spending. Fifty seven percent of Americans believe it would mostly help, and 15 percent believe it would have no impact. Only 21 percent believe it would mostly harm the economy.

In summary, most Americans expect their taxes to go up, and then those increased taxes to be spent in ways other than addressing the budget deficit and national debt. Moreover, a majority of Americans believe that cutting spending will help the U.S. economy. Altogether, these help explain the focus on cutting government spending.

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology.

Fifty Seven Percent of Americans Want Washington to Focus On Reducing Spending

After billions in bailouts and stimulus spending, recent Reason-Rupe poll results reveal public sentiment has turned against government spending and shifted toward spending cuts. Although many Americans are not necessarily opposed to raising revenues (taxes) in some form or to raising taxes on the wealthy, the consensus wants Washington to focus on spending cuts, rather than on raising revenues.

Seventy seven percent of Americans believe the federal government should have a spending cap that prevents it from spending more than it takes in during a given year—62 percent believe this strongly. In addition, 69 percent favor a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget, with 50 percent strongly favoring such a reform.

Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The federal government should have a spending cap that prevents it from spending more than it takes in during a given year."

Would you favor or oppose a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget?

Respondents were asked about their preferred solution to reducing the $14.3 trillion national debt. At 57 percent, the most preferred solution was to focus on reducing spending, and possibly increasing some taxes. Only 23 percent wanted equal emphasis on both tax increases and spending cuts, while only 15 percent wanted to primarily rely on tax increases. Moreover, the plurality response at 37 percent was to decrease spending with no tax increases.

Overall, these results suggest that although the public is not necessarily averse to some revenue increases, the majority wants Washington to focus on reducing government spending.

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology.

Reason-Rupe Poll Finds Opportunity for Third-Party Presidential Candidate

The latest Reason-Rupe poll results reveal a potential opportunity for a third-party presidential candidate. Seventy two percent of Americans say they would or might consider voting for a third-party presidential candidate, while 48 percent of Americans say they would support a presidential candidate who was “conservative on economic issues and liberal on social issues.” Eighteen percent of Americans said they would strongly support such a candidate, and this is presuming the candidate ran under the banner of a third party. Finally, 37 percent of Americans said they would consider voting for a third-party Tea Party candidate if she or he entered the race against President Barack Obama and the Republican nominee in 2012. These are significant chunks of the population willing to consider and potentially vote for a non-conventional candidate.

Several factors are likely driving this support for non-conventional presidential candidates.

First, there is overwhelming evidence that the American electorate breaks down into more than just simple liberal or conservative blocs. ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd finds that 51 percent of Americans do not fit into conventional liberal or conservative buckets. Gallup finds that at least 44 percent of Americans do not fit this mold. The Reason-Rupe poll also finds that 44 percent do not fit this conventional division. These numbers suggest that traditional Democratic or Republican presidential candidates may not represent the political views of nearly half of all American voters.

Second, Dowd also explains how Obama’s low presidential approval ratings combined with the GOP presidential candidates’ inability to appeal to Independents may create a ripe environment for a third-party candidate to enter the race.

However, it is important to be clear that as a result of our electoral structure, a third-party candidate is not likely to win a general election. Nevertheless, Americans’ willingness—if not downright eagerness—to support a third-party candidate signals that a non-conventional presidential candidate may be able to win one of the two major parties' presidential nominations. This also might explain how a candidate such as Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), once considered a very remote longshot, is now third in the GOP race for president according to the latest Gallup poll results.

Preferences for the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination as of August 2011
Based on Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents

Note: Ballot support for both announced and potential GOP presidential candidates.
Source: Gallup and Gallup

If the Tea Party ran its own candidate against President Obama and the Republican nominee in the 2012 presidential election, would you consider voting for him or her?

Vote for Third Party Presidential Candidate?

Would you consider voting for an independent or third-party candidate for president in 2012?

Vote for Third Party Presidential Candidate?

Generally speaking, would you support or oppose an independent or third-party candidate who described him or herself as “conservative on economic issues” and “liberal on social issues”? 

Vote for Third Party Presidential Candidate?

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology.

Republicans Defect Quicker Than Democrats

A new Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll shows that Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to defect to a third-party presidential candidate. All of the talk recently (hereherehere, and here) of a third-party candidate entering the race should be welcome news to President Obama's campaign staff.

Independents will play an important role if a third-party candidate decides to enter the race. Among Independent voters, Ron Paul stands out at 38 percent, the highest favorability rating among potential third-party candidates. Moreover, in a three-way match-up with President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, Ron Paul garners 20 percent of Independent votes, the most of any potential third-party candidate.

Three-Way Match-Ups

Independents: Who Do They Favor?

Three-Way Match Up: Among Independents

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology.

Reason-Rupe Poll: 57 Percent of Americans Say Spending Cuts Will Help the Economy

With growing concern about a double-dip recession and a lot discussion about how to stimulate the struggling economy, over 57 percent of Americans say reducing government spending will “mostly help” the economy, according to a new national Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey of 1,200 adults. Just 21 percent believe cutting spending will “mostly harm” the economy.

When analyzing the reasons that consumers aren’t spending money, economists should note that the public is bracing for tax increases. Nearly 69 percent of voters expect their taxes to go up in the next five years and only 6 percent expect their taxes to go down. Over 32 percent say they expect their taxes to increase “a lot” in the next five years and more than 36 percent anticipate their taxes will increase “a little.” 

If taxes do go up, Americans don’t trust that the new revenue will be used to reduce the national debt.  When asked what they expect Congress would do with money generated by tax increases, 62 percent of Americans say Congress would spend that money on new programs. Only 27 percent of taxpayers believe Congress would actually use the money to pay down the national debt.

Taxpayers are also worried about Congress’ inability to balance the federal budget. Over 77 percent of Americans say the federal government needs a spending cap that prevents it from spending more than it takes in during a fiscal year.  Ninety-one percent of Republicans, 75 percent of independents and 66 percent of Democrats favor a federal spending cap. Support for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget is somewhat lower, but still strong, at 69 percent.

When asked about the best way to reduce the national debt, 37 percent of voters believe reducing federal spending without increasing taxes is the best policy. Another 20 percent say they favor mainly decreasing spending along with some tax increases. Over 24 percent say an equal emphasis on spending cuts and tax increases is the right approach.  Just 7 percent favor relying exclusively on tax increases to reduce the national debt, and 8 percent say they favor mostly tax increases combined with some spending reductions.

The Reason-Rupe poll sheds light on how difficult fixing the federal budget’s structural problems will be and shows that choice is going to be the key to any future entitlement reforms. Over 54 percent of Americans favor allowing workers to opt-out of Social Security if they choose to rely on their own retirement savings.  And 56 percent support allowing workers to opt-out of Medicare if they choose to pay for their own health care in retirement.

Adding choices will be vital to any reform efforts because there are strong sentiments against other reforms. Sixty-seven percent oppose raising Social Security’s retirement age above the current age of 65; 57 percent of taxpayers are against cutting their current or future Social Security benefits to help balance the federal budget; and 51 percent are against cutting their current or future Medicare benefits  to help balance the budget.

However, this picture changes sharply if the people who oppose Social Security or Medicare cuts are assured of receiving benefits that are at least equal to the amount they pay into the entitlement programs.  In that scenario, the number of people willing to accept Social Security benefit reductions grows to 61 percent, and 59 percent would accept cuts in Medicare.

Full Poll Online

The complete Reason-Rupe survey is online here (pdf).

This Reason-Rupe poll, conducted August 9-18, 2011, surveyed a random, national sample of 1,200 adults by telephone (790 on landlines, 410 on cell phones). The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The poll was conducted for Reason Foundation by NSON Opinion Strategy.

This is part of a series of Reason-Rupe public opinion surveys dedicated to exploring what Americans really think about government and major issues.  This Reason Foundation project is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.

Reason-Rupe Poll Finds 24 Percent of Americans are Economically Conservative and Socially Liberal, 28 Percent Liberal, 28 Percent Conservative, and 20 Percent Communitarian

ABC News Analyst Matthew Dowd recently highlighted a puzzling fact about the American electorate: nearly 51 percent are neither conventional conservatives nor are they conventional liberals. He concludes that the 51 percent must be a “mishmash of independents, and not ideological members of either political party.” The latest Reason-Rupe poll results help identify those Americans who do not fit the conventional liberal-conservative mold.

The Reason-Rupe poll finds that about 24 percent of the electorate consists of small government types: They want government to be less involved in both economic and social issues. Roughly, they could be labeled the “libertarian group." About 20 percent of the electorate, labeled “communitarian,” prefer government to be involved in both economic and social issues. Conventional American liberals, who are economically and socially liberal, make up 28 percent, and American conservatives, who are economically and socially conservative, make up another 28 percent.

American Electorate

Gallup also used a similar grouping method, finding nearly identical results: It found a libertarian group that wants to “keep it small” at 22 percent of the electorate; liberals, or “Obama liberals,” at 24 percent; conservatives, dubbed “Morality first,” at 17 percent; and communitarians, labeled “the bigger the better,” at 20 percent. Gallup also included a fifth group, the “mushy middle” at 17 percent.

Source: Gallup Poll

Methodology: 

These four political groups were determined using standard “role of government” questions to understand respondents’ preference for government action in both social and economic issues, as well as their preference for a more activist or limited government overall. The questions are below:

Q51  “The less government the better”; OR, “there are more things that government should be doing.” 

Q52 “The government should be doing more to regulate businesses”; OR, “Too often, government regulation of businesses does more harm than good.”

Q53 “We need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems”; OR, “People would be better able to handle today’s problems within a free market with less government involvement.”

Q54 Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?

Different Ways To Cut It: Similar Results

There are several ways to use standard role of government questions to determine the percentages of the four groups. Using different combinations produces nearly the same results. You can see the results of using different combinations below:

In conclusion, ABC News’ Matthew DowdGallup, and the Reason-Rupe Poll findings together demonstrate a substantially more nuanced view of the American electorate. Americans cannot easily be bundled into either the “liberal” or “conservative” groups, and to do so would be to underestimate the potential for a majority of Americans to provide substantial support for non-conventional candidates.

For more discussion of ideological groups in American politics, please click here.

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology.