“Americans’ choice of big government, big business or big labor as the biggest institutional threat facing the U.S. in the future strongly skews toward the first of these. While Republicans are most likely to say big government is the biggest threat, about half of Democrats — the party that favors government intervention and the party currently in control of the presidency — say the same.”
- About two-thirds name big government as biggest threat
- One in four fear big business most, 5% big labor
- Republicans especially concerned about big government
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As businessman Donald Trump prepares to become the nation’s 45th president, Americans continue to express more concern about the threat big government poses to the U.S. than big business or big labor. Two in three Americans (67%) identify big government as the country’s biggest threat. That is below the record high of 72% in 2013 but still on the higher end of the range since the mid-1960s.
Meanwhile, the 26% of Americans who name big business as the biggest threat remains down from 32% in 2009 amid the economic recession, but it is near the average since 1965. Just 5% say big labor is the biggest threat. This is about half the level recorded a decade ago and far lower than in the 1960s and 1970s, when it typically ranked second among the three threats.
Americans have consistently been more concerned about big government than big business and big labor since Gallup first asked this question in 1965. This concern peaked in 2013, the year healthcare exchanges opened under the Affordable Care Act and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed information about government spying tactics. However, concern about big government has declined slightly since.
Worry about big business spiked to a record high of 38% in 2002 after corporate scandals at Enron, WorldCom and Tyco made headlines. It rose again to 31% in 2008 and 32% in 2009 after government bailouts of banks and automotive companies during the financial crisis, as well as the revelation of Bernie Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme.
Public concern about big labor has lagged far behind big business and big government since the mid-1990s, reflecting the weakening role of labor unions in U.S. society. By contrast, in the 1960s and 1970s, Americans typically were more concerned about big labor than big business. Concern about big labor was highest in 1965, at 29%.