A slim majority of Americans, 54%, continue to say the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Fewer, 41%, say the government should do more to solve the country’s problems.
One of the fundamental questions that have divided the U.S. this election year — and, in fact, since its founding 240 years ago — concerns the appropriate role of the federal government. A new update of a longstanding Gallup trend shows that Americans continue to favor a smaller role for government, with 54% saying the government is attempting to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses, and 41% saying it should do more to solve the country’s problems.
With a few exceptions, the current results are typical of Americans’ responses since 1992. One exception was in late 1992 and early 1993 as Bill Clinton campaigned for and took over the presidency. At that time, Americans were highly concerned about the economy. The second exception occurred in October 2001, just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when Americans were focused on the government’s response to the most significant domestic terrorist attack in the country’s history. Otherwise, across more than 40 surveys over 25 years, including the most recent Sept. 7-11 update, the public has tilted by at least a small margin toward believing that the government is trying to do too much.