With all the bad press and polling that the Romney campaign has gotten recently, here’s some data that may actually prove that he is saying something that people want to hear in election 2012.
A majority of Americans say the government is doing too much, doing too many things, and has become too hands-on for its own good. Alternatively, they believe free markets and individuals should instead take a greater role in solving our most pressing problems.
According to the latest Gallup Poll, a majority of Americans — 54% — continue to believe the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses, although that is down from the record high of 61% earlier this summer. About four in 10 Americans — 39% — say the government should do more to solve the nation's problems.
So Romney’s “less is better” bureaucratic approach is actually appreciated by many Americans.
In the 20 years of asking this question, the majority of Gallup respondees have only a handful of few times said government should do more to solve the nation's problems than they have said it is doing too much. The first was in the fall of 1992 and early 1993, right when Bill Clinton took office. The second time occurred in October 2011, immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
As Gallup explains, this data point is a huge deal: “The appropriate role of government in addressing the nation's problems is one of the most divisive issues in this year's presidential election. President Barack Obama tends to support the idea that government should do more to address the country's problems, while Mitt Romney generally takes the opposite view.”
The polling is generally split along party lines. As Gallup outlines, two-thirds of Democrats think government should do more, while an even larger percentage of Republicans say government is doing too much that should be left to individuals and businesses. More than six in 10 independents agree that the government is doing too much.
So is the take-away here that more Americans embrace conservativism? Or even that free market libertarianism is becoming commonplace in American culture?
The results are so far inconclusive, and this is only one data point. Besides, American values tend to want less control. It’s the cowboy complex in all of us.
Either way, somewhere out there, former GOP presidential nominee and libertarian Congressman Ron Paul is smiling: He loves the free markets.