Young, Old, Democrat and Republican Agree: The Federal Government Sucks


The Gallup organization polled Americans across the partisan divide, and ranging in age from pimply and arrogant to wrinkly and bitter, about their opinions of various sectors of American society. When it comes to the federal government, it's probably no surprise that starry-eyed youth and White House-haunting Democrats had the most affectionate sentiments. What is surprising is that the sort of affection they show is less akin to a passionate embrace and more like, "it's not you, really, it's me. We're just not working out." That's right, even among the young and the Democratic, warm feelings for the federal government are hard to find.

Writing for Gallup, Frank Newport points to philosophical differences about the role of government as well as the simple joy of possession as explanations for the 26-point fifference in positive feelings about the federal government between Republicans and Democrats.

Democrats' more positive ratings of the federal government could be due, in part, to the basic partisan differences in views of the role government should play, although they also reflect the fact that a Democrat is now president. By comparison, Republicans were more positive than Democrats in their rating of the federal government in 2008, when George W. Bush was in the White House

It's undoubtedly true that members of the two major parties, by and large, feel better about the coercive hand of the state when they think they control it. But the fact is, only 39 percent of Democrats can summon warm and fuzzies when they think of the behemoth on the banks of the Potomac.

Positive feelings about the federal government

Likewise, writes Newport, "Young people are more likely to identify as Democrats than those who are older, which may help explain younger Americans' more positive view of the federal government." But da yutes shine in their embrace of the state only by comparison, with the other age groups essentially poised to set it on fire only so they can stamp it out. Even 50-to-64-year-old baby boomers are less thrilled about the feds than are 18-to-29-year-old millennials, who give the federal government a whopping 31 percent positive rating.

Positive opinions of the federal government by age

The different views of business sectors by partisanship and age are also worth a gander, since they describe interesting cultural schisms and suggest potential policy implications. "For example," writes Newport, "Democrats' more negative view of the oil and gas industry could influence Democratic officials' decisions on funding alternative energy sources." Basically, in a heavily regulated and corporatist age, government has the potential to reward and punish business sectors for ideological reasons, or simply to win the backing of voting factions for politicians who hold power.

Find the full results here.

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  1. So I guess that means they’ll all be voting for a candidate in 2014 who promises to reduce the size of the federal government and reign in its authority, right?

    1. No, they will vote for a candidate who will promise to make the federal government “better.” Unfortunately, probably most of the people who gave negative ratings to the federal government agree with Obama’s sentiment at his inauguration: “The question isn’t whether government is too big or too small, but whether government works.”

      1. Actually I agreed with that statement, and still do. The problem is that government working has everything to do with it sticking with the things it needs to do, and not trying to do things it just isn’t good at. When it tries to create positive rights, enforce equal outcomes, and so forth, it doesn’t work. The person making the statement and his supporters just don’t seem to realize that or gleefully ignore that truth in support of their own aggrandizement.

        1. What, pray tell, are the things that which the government needs to do?

          1. If you think government needs to protect people, why would you rely upon an institution which has so utterly failed, time after time, to do so?

            Its good at killing people.

            Its good at caging people.

            Its good at confiscating people’s property.

            Its good at creating mayhem.

            Its good at mass murder.

            Its good at effecting spectacular misallocation of resources.

            Its good at spending other people’s money.

            Its good at exempting itself from all of the rules it imposes upon the mundanes.

            Its good at polluting.

            Its good at identifying the dregs of society to do its protecting.

            Its good at creating racial divisiveness.

            Its good at incompetence.

            Is it good at anything else?

            1. I admire your ideas, and am interested in subscribing to your newletter hiring you to work for the Federal Government?.


              1. What openings do you have?

                1. That’s a rather untoward thing to ask a perfect stranger.

    2. ” 2014 who promises to reduce the size of the federal government and reign in its authority, right?”

      Absolutely. you can choose the candidate who vows to cut defense and benefits for the rich, or the one who vows to cut other stuff.

      At the end of the day, this poll is meaningless. Everyone hates the government, except for the parts they support. And there is no consensus on which part sucks and which part is vital and sacred.

      1. Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the fella behind the tree… We all agree on THAT much at least! But yes, other than that, we sorely lack consensus…

  2. 18 to 29 year old give the movie industry a 53% approval rating?!?!?!


    1. Corning| 8.23.13 @ 5:49PM |#
      “18 to 29 year old give the movie industry a 53% approval rating?!?!?!”

      Yeah, all those groovy actors are really smart and stuff!

      1. MATT DAMON!

        1. Well, did you see him in his new flic, Elysium?

          It was good / okay.

          Jodie Foster’s calves? Yummy.

          1. Love them baby cows do’ya?

          2. Jody Foster is a veal producer?

    2. i am 25 and my first question on nearly everything was “Rate it in what regard?”

      The movie industry is fine in creating movies…some good some bad but whatever. It ebing a political machine to brain wash people bad…..so if they are asking as a general question i’ll rate it in the regard of it making movies as better than neutral.

      So i could see most people just rating it based on do they make a profit and make movies the general public will see. That is probably why they have a decent rating.

      Also it is interesting to see all the old farts and old farts lol negative in all ways ^^

  3. …Democrats’ more negative view of the oil and gas industry could influence Democratic officials’ decisions on funding alternative energy sources.

    I think campaign donations and lobby dollars have more to do with that than anything.

    1. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. The liberals have been beating the Green drum for decades. They support massive payouts to Solar contractors and Electric Vehicles. That money is going to be paid out because the people want it. Musk gets the money for Solar City and Tesla because he is connected.

  4. You know who are probably dissatisfied with the federal government right now? Communists. People who want more welfare, more gun control, more affirmative action, people who feel the current government isn’t “doing enough.” One should not mistake “I am dissatisfied with this current government,” for “I’m dissatisfied with the idea of government in general.”

    1. Indeed.

      Reminds me of people assuming that “Dissatisfied with the President’s performance” meaning “agrees with MY critique of the President”.

      After all, hardcore Conservatives didn’t like President Bush, because he was squishy soft on far too many things; they would say “not satisfied” just like a Progressive would, but for radically different reasons.

      (I also see that contra the assertions of many that “old folks trust the government because FDR! New Deal! Fair Deal!”, it sure looks more like either a) Old folks are just crotchety or b) Old folks learned not to trust the Man.)

  5. Glancing over the bottom chart, the most obvious explanation would seem to be that 18-to-29-year-olds like everything better than their elders.

    1. …”the most obvious explanation would seem to be that 18-to-29-year-olds like everything better than their elders.”

      Discrimination doesn’t happen overnight.

      1. Exactly. Look, it took you a while to get the discrimination thing down, right?

        At one time, you thought that tony presented some of the most coherent, logical and reasoned arguments on H&R until you started parrying with shriek.

        1. “At one time, you thought that tony presented some of the most coherent, logical and reasoned arguments on H&R…”

          Uh, I think you’re confused.

  6. The healthcare industry should be the highest number since it’s almost entirely funded by fed gov. But, then again, it’s always sort of been a love/hate thing where they love to take government money but don’t like jumping through the hoops to get it, and really don’t like having to give some of it back because of MAC/RAC audits. But the computer field’s numbers are just embarrassing.

    1. Nevermind. I thought those numbers represented that industry’s positive view towards the federal government.

  7. What’s amazing is that the computer industry has been able to become so popular. Previous generations of robber barons were regarded much more negatively. Perhaps it is the amount of money they shove into the Democrat’s pockets to keep their mouth’s shut about it. Even many libertarians have positive views of the industry, I don’t usually see much criticism about it from libertarians. Some even hold it up as an example of free market success, that is far from the truth. The reality is a reality of lawsuits, monopolies, patent trolling, and tax evasion.*

    *The taxes these companies don’t pay then fall onto the rest of us.

    1. How are the computer industry people “robber barons”?

      Yes, there are patent trolls – but almost none of those are viewed by anyone (quite correctly) as being “the computer industry”.

      Nor are there any monopolies granted in the industry outside of patents – and most of the patents don’t seem to bother anyone but Open Source zealots.

      (Tax evasion? Almost unknown. “Keeping non-US income out of the US” is “tax compliance” because it complies with the law.)

      What are you even talking about?

      1. What Sig said

      2. I don’t see tax evasion as immoral or unethical, however the feds make up the difference. I don’t think locking my door and forcing robbers to burgle my neighbor is immoral, either.

    2. “The taxes these companies don’t pay then fall onto the rest of us.”

      No they don’t. Government budgeting doesn’t work like that. They don’t say, “Ok, we need this much government, that costs so and so, so raise this much tax money.” They say “Here is how much we can get out of people in taxes without getting kicked of office. Put the rest of the vote buying on the credit card.”

  8. OT:
    Tech companies to help put 3rd-world countries on line; shame on them!
    “Why don’t Facebook and Google just embrace that they’re monetizing the third world?”
    “You’d be hard pressed to find many fooled that Internet.org is anything but a trojan horse for some big tech companies to access new customers.”
    Darn people selling food and clothing did the same thing and RUINED the places!

    1. Posted to a blog brought to them by the same infrastructure they’re denigrating as the product of some greedy malefactor. Pathetic.

  9. People think in terms of binary choices and because of that, they tend to identify with republicans or democrats (regardless of all the libertarian hype about how many independents there are). For many people, the total depth of their political involvement is which party they align themselves with. For these people, they couldn’t tell you whether they favor a policy unless they first knew whether republicans or democrats favor it. The President could be lining Interstate 80 from coast to coast with babies impaled on pikes and plenty of people of the President’s party would openly support it (and be very hostile to anyone who condemned it).

    And that is why more republicans thought government was better when Bush was President. It’s particularly funny that republicans don’t like Obama given the fact that he is really just Bush dressed up to look like a black guy.

    1. “The President could be lining Interstate 80 from coast to coast with babies impaled on pikes.”

      It’s for, you know…the children.

    2. The question is, do they then adopt for the long run the idea of impaling babies on pikes on I-80, enough that it carries over even just a little when the other party does it next? Because if not, then it’s just a curiosity.

  10. I don’t think the importance of this increasing dislike and distrust of government can be overstated. Yes, people say this then go vote for an state-expanding fuck like Obama, but the seed is there. I often get agreement that government sucks from my lefty friends, so long as I stick to generalities, rather than specifics that raise their partisan hackles.

    This is where ground can be gained.

    1. I think the problem is that indicating a negative view of the federal government can mean ‘I am dissatisfied because government is not doing enough’ as much as ‘I am dissatisfied because government is doing too much’ or ‘I am dissatisfied with our obstructionist House of Representatives’ as much as ‘I am dissatisfied with our imperial President.’

      1. No, there’s definitely truth to that, but it’s a kernel of something to work with.

        1. PL, just curious, are you still at work at 7 PM on a Friday?

          I am, but not doing work.

          1. I am, but I’m about to leave. It’s been one of those crazy weeks.

            1. Same here. If I were perfect, I would have finished two or three things that will now have to wait to early next week.

  11. These are interesting findings. I have to wonder how many Republicans who answered negatively about the federal government realized that the US military is part of, and by employees is the largest agency of, the federal government?

    1. That is one of the first issues I address with those who proclaim that they stand for liberty and who happen to call themselves, “conservative” or “conservative Republicans”.

      I find it is a good ice-breaker.

      1. You have to give conservatives some credit, they have somehow put into the mind of most adherents a picture of federal government employees working in a welfare office when in fact by agency the modal government employee works for the Department of Defense.


        1. Yes.

          However, speaking of welfare, I have always had more contempt for the welfare worker than the welfare recipient. Its the administrators, the assistant administrators, the case workers, the supervisors, the assistant supervisors, the case managers, the district managers, staff attorneys (no offense), political appointees, etc., that make things so bad.

  12. Yeah, I’d believe this if the populace didn’t elect TEAM MAROON every year, to continue to do the same things, only MOAR, driving us to meet Ancient Rome more quickly as time goes by.

    So – “there’s what people seem to indicate in polls, and what they really do, and those two things aren’t the same, so…whatever.”

    1. I dunno, I think most people don’t realize that things could be different. Humans are very adaptive, even to bad situations. Getting us to see alternatives is often a real challenge.

      1. This for sure. For most people that file’s not even on the hard drive. They’re like Neo in the Matrix; they know something’s wrong but they lack the perspective to even describe it. A world where status and interaction are not defined by force dynamics is an utterly alien idea and they tend to reject it with a blink, blank look, and a head shake, as if from some strange dream.

        1. Just trying to get across that social change, even welfare, could be handled entirely by civil society on a strictly voluntary basis is a truly Sisyphean task.

  13. Well Germans in 1932 agreed that government sucked and look how that turned out!

    1. Well, one should always take care not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      1. We cannot seem to throw out of teaspoon of bathwater, so unless the baby is a small embryo I am not worried about that problem anytime soon.

        1. I’d rather have what we have now than Nazis, but I agree.

        2. baby is a small embryo

          CLUMP OF CELLS

    2. You know, even though the Germans lost the war, I have to wonder if having invaded France and making them bend over while blitzkrieging Britain was gratifying for them nonetheless.

      “Yeah, vee lost but look at how we made zee French squeeeel like pigs! Salut!”

      1. Certainly more sporting than dronemurdering wedding guests from a desktop sixteen hundred miles away.

  14. ‘Nother OT:
    “Jason Riley: Jobless Blacks Should Cheer Background Checks
    Research suggests that employers who use them are less likely to racially discriminate.”
    “The meat of the ruling, however, is the court’s blistering takedown of the government’s “expert” report,”

  15. Climate Change Causing Climate Models to Fail

    “Climate change has made it increasingly difficult to predict climate change,” says Dr. Manyard Michael, the lead scientist behind the study. “The current 16 year pause in global warming illustrates just how serious this situation has been; if not for climate change, we now know that we would have been able to accurately predict the current break in warming and clearly show that climate change is actually accelerating faster than forecast – not stopping as climate change is making it appear to those outside of the climate science community.” Dr. Michael also noted that they stumbled on this important finding almost by accident. “We just happened to notice that the higher carbon dioxide concentrations climbed, the more we had to adjust the data to get the results we knew to be right, and the more we adjusted the data, the bigger the error in the models. It’s a very strong positive feedback.”

    1. This has got to be an Onion piece. The failure to predict the extent of the current warming pause is in fact evidence of increasingly variable weather change. Their models’ failures is in fact confirmation of their models’ basically correct premise.

      1. It’s not from the Onion, but yes, it’s clearly satirical.

        1. Hah. I didn’t click through before posting. Yes, satirical. That’s rather good.

    2. The more accurate the data, the more inaccurate the models? Isn’t that what he’s saying?

  16. Al Gore likens skeptics to racists, slavery, homophobes.

    1. That sounds about right for politician patter. I’m surprised he didn’t throw in Al Qaeda for good measure.

  17. Didn’t even read the article. But on a title like that, do you even need to read it? “NO YOU DON’T” is the correct answer to that question.

    My best friend thinks that Bradley Manning is a criminal because he acted above and beyond the duties and sanction of society. Apparently releasing documents to the public without prior say-so of the “American People” and “Authority” is too much for her…. Fuck that bitch…. Breach her preconceptions. Mind Rape for Liberty.

  18. Joe Dean Manno is not going to like that at all.


    1. No he is not!

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