Public Opinion

Gallup: Record High (72 Percent) Say "Big Government" Biggest Threat To US



When Gallup first began asking the question in 1965 only 35 percent of Americans said "big government" would be the biggest threat to the country in the future. Since then, that number has soared to 72 percent in Gallup's most recent poll.  In stark contrast, only 21 percent say "big business" is the greatest threat to the nation's future.

The prior record for "big government" was 65 percent in 1999, but concern receded in the early 2000s in the wake of 9/11. However, since 2009 with bailouts, stimulus spending, quantitative easing, NSA spying, IRS targeting, AP wiretapping, and probably most importantly the Affordable Care Act, concern has skyrocketed more than 20 points to 72 percent.


Particularly surprising is that even a majority of Democrats (56 percent) agree that "big government" poses the greatest threat to the nation's future, even during the tenure of an incumbent Democratic president. Nevertheless, substantially more Republicans (92 percent) and independents (71) are concerned about the expanding scope of government power. Significant differences in partisan perception were not always common in American politics, particularly during the Johnson, Nixon, Carter, and Reagan administrations. Major differences emerged between 1986 and 2000, and then again after 2005.

Today, only 21 percent of Americans perceive "big business" as the biggest threat. While anxiety about corporations has fluctuated over the past 50 years, Americans have consistently remained more concerned about government power.

In the wake of corporate scandals in the early 2000s and government's response to the 9/11 attacks, anxiety over business and governmental power coalesced. In 2002 38 percent of Americans were most concerned about big business compared to 47 percent who were concerned about government.

These data suggest that public worry over governmental power will continue to fluctuate but will likely continue to rise. Not only that, but the public will continue to identify government, not corporations, as the country's biggest threat.

Read more about Gallup's poll here.

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  1. “Particularly surprising is that even a majority of Democrats (56 percent) agree that “big government” poses the greatest threat to the nation’s future, even during the tenure of an incumbent Democratic president.”

    And yet 99% of them will vote with the intention of making the government even more powerful.

    1. I wondered if it was ‘yeah, it’s a problem; it’s not big enough!’
      Well, you can read the (linked) article by Gallup and you will not find out what specific questions were asked.

    2. Republicans vote for bigger, more powerful government too but mostly without the intention of doing so.

  2. My unfortunate question: For what percentage is the actual answer “Big Government (unless the right people are in charge”?

  3. By big government I meant only the part not on my TEAM


  4. I’m somewhat intrigued by this. If this were a ReasonRupe poll, I’d be all, ok, and move on to the next story. But Gallup… to get 72%, even with margin of error is interesting to me.

  5. Oh, apropos of the political cartoon that’s too small to really see, a little quick sleuthing on my part turns out it’s a guy named Bob Gorrell who does those. Can Reason get him to do Friday Funnies?

    1. This was also my question. More of a request really.

      1. I did some more looking at his Cartoons, he sure does some good ones on Obama, but the guy’s no libertarian. ::sadface::

  6. If only Republicans could find an articulate spokesman in the Reagan mold, and could overcome the inevitable left/media charges that he’s just a Social Darwinist and pawn of the rich, they could sweep 2014 and 2016 and get us moving away from the fiscal cliff and back towards liberty.

    Hey, I can dream….

    1. There you go again…

    2. Despite his comments, I won’t attack Papaya’s youth and inexperience…

    3. They’d also have to resist the urge to go ballistic on gays, abortion, immigration, and other “family value” issues.

  7. I keep hear this yap yap yap yap constantly from libertarians and conservatives. If the government is too big for them why don’t they stop running for office, or get out of politics? Ask a conservative what the proper power of the federal government should be and you are told that it is foreign policy and defense. Really? I though that’s where all the money is spent that all the taxes go to? Of course they could just shut down Washington, DC, turn it into a museum, and let the 50 states hand foreign policy, and defense and print their own money. That will work. Right? Better yet, just create separate countries out of the U.S. Texas could become the Lone Star State again, and the Confederacy (without the slaves of course) could be resurrected as “Old Dixie”again. New England would survive as a separate country. And on and on. How about it folks, haven’t we outgrow the U.S. of A. Time to break up into separate countries. Right?

    1. Sounds great, moron. I’m surprised someone as stupid as you could stumble onto such a perfect solution, but even a retarded clock is right once in a blue moon.

      1. How are you today Anal Breath? Glad you enjoyed reading my comments. Are you an abortion who lived? Anyway, I will let you go now so you can shove a cucumber up your asshole, which of course is where your brain is, therefore stimulating it. Any questions just dial 1 800 EAT DUNG

    2. I haven’t seen you post around here, but I’m intrigued by your plan to shut down DC and turning it into a museum. I’m not sure about the museum part. For instance, I really believe the land could be put to more productive use, but it sounds like you’re onto something here.

      1. I actually have no problem with those ideas

    3. Actually, smaller, loosely allied governments each looking to their own interests might be better. Each community would have more control over their own future and smaller governments would have less incentive for mischief overseas. Sounds completely workable. I especially like the Lone Star Republic idea. High time to make this plan reality.

  8. So this means at least 10% of the population both approves of Obama’s job performance and considers big government the biggest threat to the country.

  9. By “Big government” they mean your Big government, not their Big government.

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