Friday, November 10, 2006

Americans Want Smaller Government

Yesterday I posted part of a McLaughlin & Associates poll on the American mid-term election results.

Well, another part of the poll has even more interesting findings. Here's a press release the pollster just released which explains what I mean:

"It appears that the Republicans have lost their advantage on the philosophical issue of the size of government.

Among the people who voted in this past election, 59% favor a smaller government with fewer services, and only 28% favor a larger government with many services.

Among those who voted for a Republican for Congress, they favor smaller government by a 5-to-1 margin. However, the plurality of voters who voted Democratic also supports smaller government. In the past, these voters wouldn’t consider the Democratic Party an option.

Since the majority of voters voted Democrat and almost half of these Democratic voters prefer smaller government, it's crystal clear that the Republican party has lost their foundational message. They may have lost the middle, but it's a modest middle that wants smaller government.

The battleground for the 110th Congress will be among the independent and dissatisfied voters that had such an impact on the 2006 elections.

Majorities of independent voters (68%) and those who think the country is on the wrong track (52%) favor smaller government.

It will be up to the new Democratic leadership to show if they can back the centrist talk with centrist action. On the other hand, the Republican leadership must rediscover its core principles and remind voters which party will give them smaller government."

"In general, would you say you most favor a smaller government with fewer services, or a larger government with many services?"

(Percentages shown in the format "Smaller gov't / Larger gov't / Don't Know or Refused")

Total 59/28/13

Vote GOP 76/12/12

Vote Dem 45/40/14

Right Direction 72/16/12

Wrong Track 52/35/14

Republican 74/13/13

Democrat 41/45/14

Independent 68/20/12

So the lesson from this is clear: the Republicans alienated their own base. The Conservative Party in Canada should take heed.


Miles Lunn said...

I think the idea of smaller government is supported but thats all areas of government not just some. For example social conservatism is also about bigger government too just in a different area.

As for the Conservatives, they should stick to advocating for smaller government, although I've found Canadians much like the Europeans but unlike the Americans generally see government as serving the common good and are willing to tolerate more of it than the Americans are. One should be careful in taking polls from the United States and assuming Canadians hold the same views. While we hold similiar views on some issues that are several issues where Canadians are different. With the exception of Alberta, Canada tends to be considerably more left wing than the United States.

Anne said...


I usually want to scream at most things you write, but you are dead on about social conservatism. However, if you believe social conservtism is about bigger government, you must concede that social liberalism is as well. In other words, a federal bill approving same sex marriage (such as C-38 in Canada) is as bad as one which bans it (such as the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment in the the States). In both cases, the federal government is overstepping its bounds by legislating morality in any way whatsoever. Granted, Canada operates a bit differently than the U.S., but any true federalist recognizes that marriage is a state/ provincial matter, not federal.

Big government is not solely about cutting spending and programs, but also about reigning in the federal government to its exclusive areas of jurisdiction, which in the States at least, it has long been overstepping its boundaries.

Miles Lunn said...

Anonymous - Actually the definition of marriage in Canada falls under federal jurisdiction, it is only the solemnization that falls under provincial jurisdiction. Now I am fine with the idea of just getting the government out of the marriage business altogether, but no country has yet to do this.

As for federal governments stepping over provincial/state government jurisdictions, I don't see how that means less government since it is just transferring power from one government to another. If the government shouldn't be involved, it shouldn't be involved at any level. If it should be, I think it would make sense to have more done nationally than provincially/state as we are becoming a smaller world due to technological advances, greater mobility, and a more globalized economy. The private sector is doing more things on a larger scale than it did 30 years ago so I don't see why the government, in legitimate areas, shouldn't go in the same direction.

Also there is the issue of national unity. My worry is if you give too much power to the provinces/states Canada or the United States becomes nothing more than an EU style economic union. More importantly if we give so much power to the provinces, provinces this will only cause provinces to up the ante for separtism as giving more powers to Quebec has not qwelled separtism, but strengthened it.