How Big Should Government Be? New Survey Data

A new USA Today/Gallup poll asks people about their views on the size of government today and the ideal size of government. They categorize respondents into five, roughly equal groups: “keep it small” (favors small government in economic and moral matters), “morality first” (favors small government in economic matters but big government on moral questions), “the mushy middle” (self-explanatory), “Obama liberals” (big government on economic issues, small on moral ones), and “the bigger the better” (self-explanatory). Right now, 58% of Americans see the federal government as too big. The mushy middle leans toward thinking the government is too big, which creates that majority for smaller government. I’m always skeptical of attempts to divine the “will of the people,” heedless of Arrow problems, but to the extent that the majority of Americans have a firm view on the size of government today, they think it is too big. Hence the approaching Republican wave, as many voters see a Republican Congress as the best way to restore equilibrium.

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