Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

NEW POLL: 42 Percent of Americans Think Obama Has Expanded Presidential Power Too Much; 53 Percent Want the US Less Involved in Israel-Hamas Peace Talks


As President Barack Obama orders airstrikes in Iraq and considers taking executive action on immigration, the latest Reason-Rupe national telephone poll finds that 42 percent of Americans feel he has expanded the power of the presidency "too much" during his time in office. Twenty-one percent of Americans do not think President Obama has expanded the power of the presidency enough and 30 percent say he has not increased executive power at all while in office.


When it comes to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, 53 percent of Americans believe the United States should be less involved in negotiating a long-term peace agreement — 36 percent feel the US should stay out of the negotiations entirely and 17 percent say the US should be less involved than it is today.  Twenty-one percent feel the US should be more involved in peace negotiations and the same number want the US to continue its current level of involvement.

Thirty-seven percent of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing on foreign policy, while 53 percent disapprove. Overall, 43 percent of Americans approve, and 52 percent disapprove, of the job the president is doing.

Just 18 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 75 percent disapprove.  There's little enthusiasm for either party to take over Congress this November. Thirty-four percent of Americans say they would prefer that neither major party control Congress, 33 percent hope Republicans control Congress after the 2014 elections, and 29 percent want Democrats in control.

Eighty-three percent of registered voters  — 84 percent of Republicans, 73 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents — tell Reason-Rupe they are certain or likely to vote in November. If the congressional elections were held today, 42 percent of likely voters say they'd vote for the Democratic Party's candidate in their district and 41 percent would vote for the Republican candidate.

Nearly four out of 10 likely voters, 39 percent, say the economy is the number one issue influencing how they'll vote in the November elections. Perhaps surprisingly, education is the second most important issue to voters (16 percent), followed by foreign policy (15 percent), immigration (10 percent), and health care (10 percent).

In terms of economic policies, 74 percent of Americans would like Congress to focus on policies to promote economic growth, while 20 percent favor policies to reduce income inequality.

Fifty-five percent of Americans tell Reason-Rupe they have a favorable opinion of capitalism. Meanwhile, 36 percent of those surveyed, including 33 percent of independents and 26 percent of self-described Tea Party supporters, have a favorable opinion of socialism. Half of Democrats, 50 percent, have a favorable opinion of socialism, nearly identical to the 53 percent who have a favorable opinion of capitalism.

The American public appears to be open to a series of constitutional amendments that have been proposed. Eighty-four percent of Americans favor requiring members of Congress to be subject to all of the laws they pass. Nearly three-quarters of Americans, 74 percent, support an amendment requiring the federal budget to be balanced.  And 57 percent favor the so-called Citizens United amendment that would allow Congress and states to regulate campaign contributions and spending.  However just 26 percent of those who support a campaign finance amendment would still favor it if it gave Congress or states the power to regulate activities such as publishing books or blog posts that support or oppose political candidates.

Fifty percent of Americans say they're open to allowing states to repeal federal laws if half or more of the states, representing at least half of the country's total population, vote to repeal a law.

When asked about the size of government, 54 percent of Americans favor a smaller government providing fewer services. Forty-two percent favor a larger government providing more services.  The public is split on the government's role in promoting values — 49 percent say government should not favor any set of values but 47 percent believe government should promote "traditional" values. 

The Reason-Rupe national telephone poll, executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, conducted live interviews with 1000 adults on cell phones (500) and landlines (500) August 6-10, 2014. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.7%. Full poll results can be found here, including poll toplines (pdf)  and crosstabs (xls).

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  1. 58 percent of Americans think the Constitution is some old piece of paper.

    1. 58 percent of Americans think the Constitution is some old piece of paper.

      And also blame BOOSH!!11!!!

    2. 37% are just stupid, 21% are evil.

      That leaves 42% of us in a (currently) majority rules democracy that actually understand what is going on. Not too bad, really.

      We really need to figure out how to get the stupid people on our side.

  2. But what do the Millennials think?

    1. What does this have to do with video games?

  3. But what do the Millenn-

    Oh, someone already made that joke.

    1. This is no joke, lives are at stake.

  4. Reason needs to conduct a poll to determine the percentage of people who understand polls.

  5. Fifty percent of Americans say they’re open to allowing states to repeal federal laws if half or more of the states, representing at least half of the country’s total population, vote to repeal a law.

    Or, you know, we could just repeal the seventeenth amendment and restore the check the constitution originally gave the states…

    1. Or just restrict the federal government to its actual enumerated powers.

      1. Hahahahahaha. Yeah, that’ll happen alright.

  6. I am not sure how Obama has expanded the power of the Presidency.

    It seems Presidents have been doing pretty much what they feel like for as long as I can remember.

    1. I’d agree WRT foreign policy, like war powers, but I can’t recall a single one making up new portions of a law and announcing them through some friend on Friday afternoons.

      1. Sevo, I apologize for the delayed response. It’s been a hectic day here at work. After reading this article, I wanted to see what the folks were saying. I found your comment interesting. I invite you to research Bush-the-younger’s Medicare reform law. If my memory serves me, there was some controversy similar to that of the ACA, which you’re alluding to. I look forward to your feedback.

        1. Uh:
          “The MMA was signed by President George W. Bush on December 8, 2003, after passing in Congress by a close margin.”

        2. Bush generally went about his evilness in the correct way, besides the fact that he got the entire congress to ignore the constitution, it really wasn’t all on him, it was our entire government.

          1. “Bush generally went about his evilness in the correct way”
            That was my take (and point). He was truly nasty and the hope (sorry) was that even Obo would have been better.
            Ooops! Equally nasty, and dictatorial besides; what a combination!

  7. 34% of Americans think the government is not doing enough to stem the tide of government power. 19% said the government was discovered in a cave in Europe and introduced literacy and public health care to the backward, libertarian cavemen.

    Interestingly enough, 58% of Americans polled also said that the government snooped into their lives too much, but was “willing to let the government into the bedroom as long as they were stern, but tender, assertive, but not too assertive like in a macho way, and took initiative for plans for the weekend, but not in a domineering kind of way.”

    A similar number of Americans (61%) also liked their government to like kids, but not too much in that “creeper” kind of way. 82% of Americans felt that the government should be ambitious, but not so much that it won’t make time for the kids and other household activities.

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