Sixty percent of Americans say government has too much power, while 32 percent say it has “about the right amount of power” and 7 percent say it has too little power, according to the poll of 1,510 adults. The previous high was 59 percent, in 2010.
Results are predictability split primarily along party lines. Just 38 percent of Democrats noted feeling that federal officials have too much power, although 65 percent of independents did so – which tied a record. A total of 81 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Republicans stated that federal lawmakers and agencies are overreaching. That, too, is a record.
Gallup began asking the question in 2002.
“Republicans, Democrats, and independents have each grown more likely to say government is too powerful this year,” Gallup said in an analysis. “However, Republicans’ and Democrats’ views have generally become more polarized since Obama took office. In 2002, the two parties were about equally likely to view the federal government as too powerful, at 36% and 35%, respectively, with independents, at 45%, most likely to say this.
“As the George W. Bush era continued, both Republicans and Democrats began to report higher levels of unease with the amount of power the federal government held. Between 2004 and 2007, the gap between the parties ranged from seven to 17 percentage points, with Democrats more likely than Republicans to say the government had too much power.”
The Obama era has further divided the two parties.
“Americans — specifically Republicans and Democrats — have become more divided in their perceptions of federal power since the end of the Bush administration,” the Gallup analysis read. “Within a year of Obama’s inauguration, Republicans’ and Democrats’ views on the issue diverged dramatically, leaving a gulf between the parties that remains today — though the current 43-point partisan gap is smaller than the 53-point gap measured in the fall of 2009.
“A gulf between Democrats and Republicans on this measure is not unexpected, given the role of government, as well as the level of comfort partisans feel while their party is in office. Though Republicans tend to be more skeptical of government overall, this concern was tempered while President Bush was in office. However, Republicans’ concern reached new highs when Obama took office in 2009.”
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution details the powers that Congress (i.e. federal government) was entitled to possess. The number of duties is limited:
“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; To borrow money on the credit of the United States; To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States; To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures. To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”
The Tenth Amendment also offers insight into the powers of the federal government and states’ rights. The amendment reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
A similar Gallup poll also conducted in September found that fewer Americans than ever trust the federal government to handle either domestic or foreign problems.
Do you think the federal government has too much power?