Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Poll: Majority of Americans Say the Government Is Burdensome and Impedes Them

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The latest Reason-Rupe poll finds that 54 percent of Americans think government, while necessary for certain functions, is generally burdensome and impedes them more than helps them. Conversely 41 percent view government as primarily a source of good and helping people improve their lives.

A majority of Democrats (54 percent) view government as primarily a source of helping people, while 40 percent generally view it as an obstacle. In contrast, majorities of Republicans (69 percent) and independents (57 percent) disagree, viewing government as primarily as burdensome making it more difficult for people to improve their lives. Twenty-six percent of Republicans and 39 percent of independents view government as primarily helpful.

As education rises, Americans become more optimistic in government's ability to help people. For instance a majority (55 percent) of post-graduates agreed the government is a source of good, compared to 37 percent among those with high school degrees or less.

Most Caucasians (58 percent) view the government as burdensome and 37 percent view it as primarily helpful. Latinos and African-Americans are evenly divided, with slightly more Latinos viewing government as burdensome (50 percent) than helpful (46 percent).

Although majorities of young Americans agree there is more government should be doing, 53 percent view government as primarily burdensome and 43 percent view it as helpful. These numbers are similar to older Americans who feel government impedes people by a margin of 55 to 40 percent.

Government employees are also slightly more likely to view government favorably, with 51 percent who believe government is primarily helpful. However, 56 percent of private sector employees say government primarily impedes people from improving their lives.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted Dec 4-8 2013 interviewed 1011 adults on both mobile (506) and landline (505) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results, detailed tables, and methodology found here. Sign up for notifications of new releases of the Reason-Rupe poll here.