Poll: Most Americans Want Smaller Government, Fewer Services


All hail The Libertarian Moment. From an ABC News/Washington Post poll of a 1,083 American adults taken over January 12-15:

The poll asked: "Generally speaking, would you say you favor smaller government with fewer services, or larger government with more services?"

Fifty-eight percent said they favor a smaller government with fewer services, and only 38 percent said they favor a larger government with more services.

More here, via Instapundit and CNS.

Full poll results here. Question is No. 40, and you have to go back to 2002 for a higher number.

Matt Welch and me on The Libertarian Moment.

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  1. Read this from Drudge last night.


    I doubt it means a damn thing, but it’s nice to wonder.

    1. It means America is a cognitive dissonance basketcase

      1. This is correct.

      2. Any sufficiently large group of people is.

    2. It doesn’t mean a damn thing. This question has polled the same way for years. Sure, everybody wants the government to cut services. As long as they’re the services somebody else is using. The ones they use themselves, that’s another story.

      In other words, this is like Jesse Walker’s “young people approve of gay marriage” polls. Maybe – but don’t hold your breath.

      1. “This question has polled the same way for years. Sure, everybody wants the government to cut services. As long as they’re the services somebody else is using. The ones they use themselves, that’s another story.”

        My thoughts exactly.

    3. It means 38% don’t pay taxes.

      1. Right on man,right on.

  2. The Libertarian Moment

    Moment, month, year or era? Too early to tell. In some ways, our task as a nation is many magnitudes greater than that of our founders. The inertia of two-plus centuries of federal, state and local government growth and power is almost impossible to reverse without a revolution. Let’s hope it is a peaceful, rational one.

    1. Indeed. And let’s hope we have one before it’s too late.

      1. It’s already too late.This next revolt will be the bloodiest one the world has yet to witness.

  3. Oh, please. Try asking them about specific programs (do you support cutting Medicaid? Social Security?). The only things they’ll be willing to cut are “pork” and “foreign aid” (given that people seem to believe that foreign aid is about 50% of the budget). Otherwise, they’re all for cutting the size of government – just not any of the government that they themselves want.

    1. If you stick to programs they don’t use the numbers go even higher.

    2. Give me a break.Social Security and Medicare are 2 communist programs instituted by 2 communist presidents,Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.Do you really think the Socialist Democrats or Neo-con Republicans would cut these programs?
      I think not,this is the whole basis of their control of the “sheeple”.

      1. But not their wealth.

        1. Obama is not our first communist president.

          1. JFK was not a Socialist Democrat,that is what got him shot.

            1. The same with his brother Bobby.

      2. “Communism is a social structure in which classes are abolished and property is commonly controlled, as well as a political philosophy and social movement that advocates and aims to create such a society”. So can you explain how these programs are Communist? As always, a person who knows nothing of history speaks about cutting programs that our grandparents would not have survive without. Therefore we would not been hearing from you. All nations have fallen due to ignorance. Not large or small governance. It is always some ignorant person or persons that end a nation. On the subject, yeah cut government so the little person can be ran over by big business. Drill baby drill!!

  4. you have to go back to 2002 for a higher number

    So 2002 was an even bigger libertarian moment? Crap.

  5. 1.19.10 Never Forget!

  6. Poll: Most Americans Want Smaller Government, Fewer Services

    Pernicious nonsense!

    1. Most Amerikans depend upon big government for their government handouts.
      They have never known any other way.Sad but true.

  7. What can Brown do for you? Stop the lunatics in their tracks!

    Come on Massachusetts, this is our golden opportunity here to restore a bit of balance, don’t blow it.

  8. I call BS.

    Q: Which government services that you use would you eliminate?

    A: None. I need all of the ones I use.

    1. I could do without the Universal Service Fund.

  9. Most people do. But they don’t care enough to do anything about it. Big government is a luxury done under the noses of an uncaring public. It is not that public at large loves big government. It is that the public at large is too busy with other things to fight its growth or they get distracted by cultural issues. They are like frogs in the boiling water myth. The temperature of big government has gone up so gradually in the last 40 years that they haven’t bothered to notice or found it worth it to fight each incremental change.

    I think that is changing however. Obama has run up such a deficit and is threatening to so great an increase in government interference in people’s lives via Obamacare that otherwise apathetic people are starting to wake up.





    1. X, Somalia is over-rated. There literally hundreds of other places to choose from and we are all free to move about the planet to a country that has a gubmint that suits our tastes. Or we can just take over some acreage and start our own country. Hail Hail Doofania!

      (this snark was brought to you by the fresh thinking folks at Summer’s Eve)

    2. Actually, according to the UN, the Somalia economy is stronger than those in many other countries in Africa.

  11. Not only do we need smaller government and fewer services, We need term limits, and let them serve only three months a year. Any more time then that gives them the time to find ways to tax us and create bigger government. No more monopolies with these senate seats such as the one the Kennedy’s had in Massachusetts for the past 58 years. check out http://www.suckitupcrybaby.com

    1. Terms limits and reduced legislative sessions are a recipe for more executive power. Executive branch officials already run rings around congress because they have huge information and budget advantages. Reducing the experience and time to do oversight, these advantages grow even bigger.

  12. I want to believe the poll. However, I will wait for the next election cycle and will probably be disappointed once again.

  13. Most Americans Want Smaller Government, Fewer Services

    It’s all in how the question is phrased. The latter part was understood to pertain to worshipping.

  14. i could really do without all the mandates and regulations that i constantly “use” at the DMV in Virginia, and without the auto insurance mandate (or pay a $500 statutory fee to the state), etc. dismantle all the brick & mortar DMVs or merge them w/ all the libraries that i also never use.

  15. click the link for full poll results and read through it all. Take particular note of questions 10, 15, 16, 27, and 28. I think those are more telling than the less government result.

  16. Forget the polls. Look at how people vote, not how they answer contrived questions. They vote for lower taxes and increased government services.

    1. It’s true. We all vote for the schlub that says he will make it work, regardless of logic.

  17. Good to see the numbers on Marijuana are trending in the right direction. That is about the only positive thing I can see about the poll results.

  18. Now start asking them which services they’re ready to see disappear. Highway maintenance? Free public education? Policing?

    My guess is the answers will all be services used by people other than the respondent.

  19. Which federal programs to cut is not immediately obvious. What we need is a list of federal programs that, a common sense reading of the constitution indicates, should be run at the state level. Then sort the resulting list by the annual dollar amount spent (largest first). Then start shrinking the federal government by hacking away at those programs first.

  20. It better be longer than a moment.

    And now for some accompanying music. . .

    If you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow.
    The Beatles: Revolution

    And the parting on the left is now the parting on the right.
    The Who: Won’t Get Fooled Again

  21. Nuts, how does anyone in the real world do budgeting? First, you start with how much you actually have available to spend. (For government, use last years tax receipts.) Then you prioritize.

    Title 3 judges can’t have their pay reduced (Constitutional requirement), so they’re line item #1.

    Line item #2, principal and interest owed.

    Then you get to things that provide for public safety and national security, this will include the most critical parts of the military expenditures, but only the most critical parts. Ditto for the FBI, CIA, DHS, CDC, etc.

    Then it starts to get hard, because the mandated welfare programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicade) are expensive.

    If there is any money left after that point, you keep on prioritizing. When the money runs out, you stop funding things.

    Interest is a big chunk anymore, but if the government stops borrowing, interest and principal start declining, freeing up revenue for other things.

    And the cost of the welfare programs could be reduced by means testing the benefits.

    I think you could get, and keep, a majority of Americans to support such disciplined budgeting.

  22. Put simply, I think a majority of this majority is utterly full of crap and would be proven so if ever called on it.

    If voters truly want “fewer services,” their Johnny-come-lately timing is awfully suspect.

  23. Generally speaking, would you say you favor smaller government with fewer services, or larger government with more services?Fifty-eight percent said they favor a smaller government with fewer services, and only 38 percent said they favor a larger government with more services.

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