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Gallup poll: Record 72 percent believe big government is USA's greatest threat

A new Gallup poll finds 72 percent of Americans feel big government poses a greater threat to the United States in the future than big business or big labor, a record high since the polling outfit began asking the question nearly 50 years ago.

The response suggests that far-reaching government policies, such as ObamaCare, along with recent revelations of NSA spying tactics, have helped raise concerns among Americans, the company said Wednesday.

"(The findings) may be partly a reaction to an administration that favors the use of government to solve problems," Gallup wrote.

Big government has always topped business and labor as a concern since Gallup began asking the question in 1965, but its previous high was 65 percent in 1999 and 2000, before the Sept. 11 attacks helped rally American support for government institutions and officials.

During the Obama era, big government fears have increased steadily, from 55 percent in March 2009 to 64 percent in November 2011 to Wednesday's finding. Since Obama took office, an average of 64 percent of Americans have named big government as the nation's greatest threat, compared to an average of 56 percent during George W. Bush's presidency.

The pattern is largely driven along partisan lines, as Republicans are more likely to be concerned about the size and power of government, a fear that's amplified during a Democratic presidency, Gallup said. Democrats are more likely to see government as a threat while a Republican is in office, but they typically see government as less threatening than Republicans.

In the survey released Wednesday, 92 percent of Republicans named government as America's greatest threat, compared with 56 percent of Democrats.

The poll also found 21 percent believe big business is the nation's greatest threat, while the 5 percent who fear labor's influence marks a record low for the poll, an indication of the labor movement's decline over the past several decades, the company said.

The poll of 1,031 adults was conducted from Dec. 5-8. The margin of error was 4 percentage points. 

Click here to read more from Gallup.