For nearly 50 years Gallup has polled the American public on this question: “In your opinion, which of the following will be the biggest threat to the country in the future — big business, big labor, or big government?”
In mid-December Gallup announced this year’s result: Fully 72 percent of Americans now say big government is a greater threat to the U.S. than either big business or big labor.
That’s an all-time record — and by a sizeable margin.
A majority of Americans have always chosen “big government” when asked this question. But the 72% choice of big government as the biggest threat is the largest ever, far surpassing the prior record of 65% in 1999 and 2000.
(For comparison, when the poll was first taken in 1965, only 35% of Americans thought big government was the greatest threat.)
This year just 21% named big business as the greatest threat, and only 5%, a record low, said big labor.
Further, the response is consistent across party lines. Gallup notes: “Each party group currently rates big government as the greatest threat to the country, including a record-high 92% of Republicans and 71% of independents, as well as 56% of Democrats.”
Concludes Gallup: “This suggests that government policies specific to the period, such as the Affordable Care Act — perhaps coupled with recent revelations of government spying tactics by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — may be factors.
“Americans have consistently viewed big government as a greater threat to the United States than either big business or big labor, but never more than they do now. That may be partly a reaction to an administration that favors the use of government to solve problems. Also, the revelation of widespread government monitoring of U.S. Internet activity may be a factor in raising Americans’ concern about the government. …
“In the future, Americans likely will continue to view big government as the greatest threat of the three, partly because of Republicans’ reluctance to rely on government to solve problems, and because Democrats and independents are also inclined to view big government as a greater threat than big business or big labor.”