Presidential Debates 2012

CNN Poll Shows Majority of Americans Want Government to Do Less, Promote Fewer "Traditional" Values


Tonight Reason staffers will entertain you (hopefully while you play along with the official drinking game!) as we tweet the first head-to-head debate between two fans of big government; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and incumbent President Barack Obama (D). In honor of that debate — to be divided into six sections, half on the economy, the others on the role of government, governing, and health care — let us turn to a poll (posted earlier by Reason 24/7) released on Wednesday that reports for the first time since CNN started asking, a majority of Americans would like government to do less, and they would also prefer that it didn't promote any particular set of moral values.

The CNN/ORC International poll reported:

"The number of Americans who say that the government should promote traditional values has fallen to an all-time low, a finding that might benefit many Democrats," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey, just four in 10 registered voters believe the government should promote traditional values, down from 53% in 2010 and 57% in 2008.

"Between 1993, when CNN began asking that question, and last year, a majority of respondents have always said that the government should promote traditional values. Now, for the first time, more than half say the government should not favor any particular set of values," adds Holland.

But the poll also indicates the belief that the government is doing too much is also near historically high levels.

Six in 10 say the government is doing too much that should be left to individuals and businesses. That finding could favor Republicans.

(Republicans still favor government doing things like cracking down on pornography, but then, a majority of people are opposed to porn, according to Gallup.)

Of course, people are assuming that Obama is gonna win this thing, both the debate and the presidency, so the poll is maybe not the sure sign of a Republican win. (The CNN poll also predicted that Obama would win all the debates, but that GOP Veep nominee Congressman Paul Ryan would win that debate over VP Joe Biden; no surprise there).

The poll also confirms that the debate set-up makes sense in heavily favoring economic concerns. People are indeed more worried about the economy than other issue, even other serious ones such as foreign policy. (They're also much more worried it than, say, old videos of old Obama speeches, as Nick Gillespie noted earlier.) 

Said the poll:

Nearly half of registered voters questioned say the economy is the most important issue facing the country today—not surprising when nearly three quarters say the economy is in poor shape.

The economy is followed at a great distance by the federal budget deficit (15%), health care (12%), and education (10%).

"You have to get way down the list before any foreign policy issues appear, and fewer than one in 20 pick Afghanistan or terrorism as the number-one issue," says Holland.

So, yes, people are once again professing to lean libertarian in that they want less government and for the government they have to be less moralizing. This results are similar to what the Reason-Rupe poll found in September:

Please tell me which comes closer to your own opinion…The less government the better [or] 49% There are more things government should be doing 48%

Please tell me which comes closer to your own opinion… We need a strong government to handle today's complex economic problems [or] 49% People would be better able to handle today's problems within a free market with less government involvement. 49% 

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? Government should promote traditional values 42% Government should not favor any particular set of values 55% 

But someone is going to win in November, even if you don't vote (because, it doesn't count, as Katherine Mangu-Ward noted in our November print issue) and that someone is going to, most assuredly, keep government big and, be it the drug war, or pornography, or the continued existence of the Defense of Marriage Act, that President will in some way keep the government of "traditional values" alive.

NEXT: MA Town Signs Off on Eminent Domain for Private Use

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  1. What is the most unbreakable individual record in sports?

    1. Cy Young’s 511 wins and Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak.

      1. I’m gonna have to say Johnny Vander Meer’s consecutive no-hitters.

        1. But we agree that baseball records are almost impossible to shatter due to the way the game has evolved. Pitchers throw harder, break down faster, and are neutered by the rise in middle relief pitching, so I doubt anyone will ever break 400 again, let alone 500.

          And I don’t think anyone wants to attempt to break Cal Ripken’s streak, so that one is pretty safe too.

      2. You’re going to pick Ripken’s streak? Hideki Matsui would have broken it already if Japan games counted.

        How about Roger Clemens’s two 20-strikeout games or the 32-inning (AAA) game between the Paw Sox and the Red Wings?

    2. Wilt’s 100 point night and 50 points per game season.

    3. I like Nolan Ryan for either strikeouts or no-hitters.

      How about anyone batting over .400, let alone the record(~.430, O’Neil??1895?? i think).

      DiMaggio’s hit streak looks pretty solid as well.

      Or or or, Ricky Henderson’s SB record. He’s at over 1400 closest in a couple of decades is Kenny Lofton at around 600(again, i think, been a while since i was into baseball)

      Or just about any of Gretzky’s individual accomplishments.

      1. I don’t think either of Nolan Ryan’s records are unbreakable, not when we have guys like King Felix and Justin Verlander pitching. I can even make a case for Clayton Kershaw, who is 22 and averaging well over 200Ks a year.

        1. 200ks a year would mean that kershaw would need about 23 years (~1000ks vs 5700ks)of the same to match Ryan’s k record. I say no freakin’ way.

          It’s more of a longevity thing. I don’t think that we’ll ever see another pitcher perform consistently for 20+ years. Ryan was still a force into his forties; which I think is from a deep well of good luck, or a deal with the devil.

      2. How about this:

        Oscar de la Hoya made about $50million for fighting Mayweather in aught seven. Don’t think we’ll see boxers making that much bank ever again.

    4. Ricky Henderson’s 1406 stolen bases.

      1. Already mentioned that one, but it’s a good one. I think that’ll stand.

        Interesting topic, I thought it would elicit more posts though. Maybe if it was about The Star Treck, or something, more would chime in.

    5. Probably one of those where the rules have changed to make it impossible. Like for instance the way shortening the football field from 110 to 100 yds. between the goal lines made single-play gains of over 100 yds. impossible, except in Canadian football, where they kept it at 110 yds.

  2. I think I can summarize this post perfectly: people are bloody ignorant apes that are plagued by cognitive dissonance due to being -spoon-fed myths about democracy, consent of the governed, and tribal politics.

    1. Yeah, but I am not allowed to just blog that.

      Also, are you English?

      1. No, that was actually an obscure reference to a line from Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

        1. Waiting for Godot is bloody funny.

          “The second is never so sweet . . . as the first, I mean. But it’s sweet just the same.”

  3. Lucy, how dare you post that picture of Mitt Romney. It’s just gonna further drive John batshit with his idiotic “Reason is conspiring to keep Mitt out of the White House” conspiracy theory. Unless he’s right and there is a conspiracy at

    **narrows eyes at Lucy**

    1. That picture is the new shirtless Gary Johnson. I use it until you beg me to stop.

      1. By all means, keep using it. If it accelerates the mental breakdown of Captain Murderdrone, then I’m all for it.

        1. I’m beginning to think there’s a very serious problem with this nation’s ethics. The pervasive cognitive dissonance is just a symptom of the real problem.

          1. The cognitive dissonance exists because at this point there are no consequences for having cognitive dissonance. And the politicians want that. They’ll keep it going as long as they can.

            I figure most people’s ethics have had a serious problem, well, forever. Especially to people like us who abhor uninitiated use of force and recognize that there are more things that are force than just guns.

        2. Did you see his posts in the other thread insinuating that we should have responded to 9/11 by nuking Afghanistan?

          1. If everyone took such disproportionate measures, we’d all be in leather outfits driving in the Wastes. Well, some of us.

        3. I can’t figure you out sloopy, why can’t you just see it like the majority does. Those aren’t real people we are killing, they are just dirty brown subhuman types living in mud huts. They are thousands of miles away and they don’t have real feeling and family and stuff like we do. I mean, it isn’t affecting you, so why do you care? You can get up in the morning and have your coffee and sit in your cushie chair all day and serf the interwebs no matter how many poor dirty brown critters we kill for sport and profit.

    2. Why would that even matter. Drudge has been conspiring to get Mittens into the WH since day one of this primaries and they get way more hits than reason.

  4. because, it doesn’t count, as Katherine Mangu-Ward noted in our November print issue

    Mangu tells us that every election!!!

  5. Do less for whom? Clearly, the people being polled don’t match the election outcomes.

    1. do less for everyone else. You know how it goes; folks hate Congress, except for their guy or gal.

      1. I hate my congress critters the mostest. Ok, that is a lie, I actually hate Graham and McCain more.

      2. folks hate Congress, except for their guy or gal.

        Bite the bullet and vote out every incumbent. Nothing will change in congress otherwise.

        1. Bite the bullet and vote out every incumbent. Nothing will change in congress otherwise.

          1. Bite the bullet and vote out every incumbent. Nothing will change in congress otherwise.

    2. Parties nominate their candidates. Not the public.

  6. a majority of people are opposed to porn

    The internet disagrees with this poll. But since polls are utterly useless bullshit, that’s not surprising. Polls of who viewers think will win the debate? What the fuck possible difference does it make who they think will win? Can CNN be any more vapid and ridiculous?

    See, I can ask poll questions too.

    1. Can CNN be any more vapid and ridiculous?

      I think the real question is, is there a limit to the levels of vapid and ridiculous that CNN can reach..

    2. The people that are opposed to porn, the 2 things that they are most opposed to it about, is other people viewing it and themselves getting caught viewing it.

    3. Gary Johnson wins by not being allowed to participate. I win by not watching a farcical ceremony that tests no skill necessary for office for decades now.

    4. Here’s a poll: What do you like better,

      1) Romney
      2) Obama
      3) Congress
      4) Porn

      1. That’s kind of a trick question, PL, since many would consider 1, 2, and 3 to be included in 4.

        1. Internet pornography with nekkid ladies.

      2. A classic, cake or death. Now with one hundred percent more Venn.

      3. That isn’t even a fair poll. Choice 4 wins in a landslide of epic proportions.

        1. That’s the point. Is there any doubt that any reliable poll would have porn come out on top? What does that say?

  7. We need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems
    So, 49% favor fascism.

    Government should promote traditional values 42% Government should not favor any particular set of values 55%

    So how would this benefit the democrats?

    1. We need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems

      I wonder how people would answer these questions:

      “We need a strong government to handle today’s complex computer problems”

      “We need a strong government to handle today’s complex medical research problems”

      When I think of a complex problem that needs solving the last place i would go to solve it is strong centralized hierarchy command and control system.

      I think the fact that we are a democracy people forget that our governments is still a centralized hierarchy.

      1. We need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems

        FTW? We want the people who caused the problems to fix it? Yeah, that will work out really well.

  8. Majority of Americans Want Government to Do Less, Promote Fewer “Traditional” Values

    …but, do it with *Drones*:)

  9. Damn you all to Hell, Reason! You hedonists! Now I will have a hangover tomorrow at work because I went and got beer, and it is all your fault, you and your stupid drinking game! I still can’t watch the debate though cause I can’t stand Obamas voice, it makes me ill.

    1. Eat Ramon noddle soup. It will help absorb that alcohol.

      1. Fuck no. I had never tried hummus before some Libertarian fuckheads here talked me into trying it. Now I can’t stop eating that damn hippy food. No way I am being coerced into eating other hippy food that I could get addicted to also.

        1. You’ve never had Ramen Noodles before?

          Hey guys, look at this here. Mr. Bigshot thinks he’s better
          ‘n us cause he never ate no Ramen Noodles.

          1. Breakfast of Champions.

          2. Never. I haven’t ever had lentils either. I swear this to the invisible sky god.

            1. Dammit, Hyperion!

              *** rummages around in search of delicious, hearty lentil soup ***

        2. Even if you get addicted it will save you money. Can’t get any cheaper than the noodles. Unless you purchase at some fancy noodle shop out of a truck.

          1. Yeah I know. I first heard about it when my son moved to Seattle and him and his hippy roommates were always eating it because it was so cheap and left them money for more beer. And then he got a better job and kicked out all of his hippy friends that wouldn’t pay their share of the rent. Haven’t heard about it since until now.

            1. He sounds okay in spite of that exposure to dirty hippies.

              1. He’s totally libertarian now. That’s what living on your own and working for a living does. And having a dad who is constantly preaching the L propaganda to him had some effect I like to think.

          2. Ramen noodles will give you sodium poisoning.

        3. Hummus isn’t hippie food. It’s centuries old and probably Egyptian. Don’t let them ruin this, too.

          1. I have been getting a premade one at the Giant store that is Greek Olive. It is addictive as hell. I want to try making my own but haven’t got around to it yet. But I did learn to not talk bad about it around here becasuse there is a hummus cult on H and R, and they are worse than the Islamists when someone insults their camel merchant hero.

            1. I never cared for the hummus, myself.

            2. Homemade is easy and can be much better than store-bought. Get a recipe from Episiarch–if you can afford free truffles and bull semen.

              1. Fresh. Stupid Fire autocorrect.

              2. I don’t want to be able to afford bull semen. No, that isn’t right, damnit. I’m not making hummus with bull semen. That is where I draw the line.

                But I believe you about fresh being better. I make a fresh salsa, some would call it pico de gallo, but everyone who ever tries it wants the recipe. There is no store bought salsa that can hold a candle to it.

                1. The best homemade I’ve had involved serious amounts of garlic.

              3. Homemade is super easy, buy some garbanzo beans, some sesame tahini, garlic, and then anything else you’d like to blend in like olives or roasted red peppers or ProL’s mom or bull semen. Throw them all in the food processor and add some fresh squeezed lemon. Process it, then start adding lemon and water to your desired consistency and tartness. And don’t forget the salt.

                Voila. Just takes a few minutes.

                1. You neglected to mention garlic twice.

                  I’ll endorse the roasted red pepper option–delicious. Roast your own peppers to maximize the flavor. Roasted tomatoes (or sundried) are also quite nice.

  10. Hey, Reason where the fuck is your coverage of German Unity Day? Huh? It’s like you are ignoring it or something.

    1. What happens on German unity day? Do they all go to the beer hall and drink in unity?

      1. It’s a glorious occasion where they let down the Reinheitsgebot* for a day, and drink like human beings.

        * Yes, I know, don’t kill the joke with facts you pendantic monster.

        1. I had an arrow pointing to the name of Tulpa with that last bit, but silly me, that’s metatext tagging.

          1. Hypertext, damn it! He isn’t even here tonight and he is giving me shit.

        2. My sister-in-law lives in Germany for half the year. And there probably is not a German alive that can drink more than her or is half as crazy.

          1. You wanna know what’s crazy? My sister-in-law is German too.

  11. The more I read about polls about what Americans want from government, the more I’m convinced that Americans have absofuckinglutely no clue what they want from government

    1. I would also suggest to you that polls are fucking extra crispy fried stupid and produce more confusion than answers. The fact the anyone takes any poll even remotely seriously blows my mind.

  12. I daresay that I can make far better moral and financial decisions than any of these fools who keep usurping my power to make such decisions.

    Less government, period, please.

    1. The problem is that most people today believe just the opposite, that they need the government to make every decision for them, and even worse, for you also no matter if you want to make them for yourself or not. That is how we got here.

      1. Fine. Let them defer their decisions at will. Just let me opt out.

        1. Sorry ProL, we are all in this together, you didn’t build those decisions. Forward!

  13. Being in a battleground state (actually, I don’t see Obama winning in NC, almost everyone I know hates him worse than I do, not a feeling they had in ’08) is kind of fun. Just got back from a Romney push poll call. When she stopped to ask my opinion I said (I had this written down for the occasion). ‘I don’t see why democrats and republicans can’t solve their differences with guns. Why should I have to get involved in their dispute.’

    I got a Nancy Pelosi ‘are you serious?’

    ‘Doesn’t concern me.’


    1. Nice. I’m totally stealing that.

      Although I won’t pick up the phone if I don’t recognize the number. Maybe I will, just to throw some sand in the gears.

  14. I want to watch the presidential debate tonight so I can finally decide who to vote, but how does a television work? Is it the round antenna or the spiky one? One is for UHF, the other for VHF. Which one’s which? Neither has an HDMI connector.

    Tech support!

    1. Isn’t it also showing on one of those interwebs?

      1. I’ve been adjusting my tubes since late this afternoon, but still no reception!

        1. I am trying to get my 12′ satellite dish that I mounted on the roof to work again. I can’t get the azimuth and inclination right or it is that GD 100 foot oak tree to my SW that is fucking blocking the signal. Where did I put that chain saw? If I can’t get the debate that I don’t want to watch, then destroying a massive squirrel habitat will be just as satisfying.

      2. I could start with IPv4 address and increment that 4 billion times.

        Googling “president debate live” is a bust right now.

    2. You’re gonna decide who to vote for based on a debate? That might be a good plan if their noses grew every time they lied like Pinocchio’s did, but barring that, why in the hell would you even want to watch?

      1. if their noses grew every time they lie

        Now *that* would be awesome augmented reality!

        1. If you put on the glasses, you’ll see their true forms.

          1. …and I’m all out of bubblegum.

      2. I dunno if it’s just me or not. But the fact that some people have not yet decided who they are going to vote for leads me to believe that they are terribly uniformed and incapable of doing any research, or they just really do not care and don’t think that elections really have consequences compared to like… maybe this years winner of Americas got talent?

  15. Where’s the real time tweets?!?!

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