| Most Americans OK with Big Government, at least for now
| Wednesday, April 15, 2009
|By Susan Page
A USA TODAY analysis of the survey finds demographic divisions when it comes to what the federal government should do.
• The largest group, 37% of respondents, is comfortable with big government and solidly behind Obama. Nine of 10 approve of the job the president is doing and 85% endorse the government's expanded role to deal with the financial crisis. Nearly all of them see big business as a more foreboding threat to the country than Big Government.
This group is mostly Democratic and includes the most liberals. It has more women than men and is slightly younger and better educated than the sample as a whole.
"I don't worry about Big Government," says Lillie Thomas, 74, a retired hotel housekeeping supervisor in Las Vegas. "We should try to help people get back to work and get better health care."
• At the other end of the spectrum is a smaller group that is solidly against the expansion of government and Obama's approach. Even the plan to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, supported by at least three of four people in every other group, is backed by just 8%.
Members of this group, which includes 21% of respondents, tend to be white and male with education and income levels above the average. They are overwhelmingly Republican and mostly conservative.
Letting the market work — even if that means allowing automakers such as GM and Chrysler to fail — would be better than giving the government a say in the companies' leadership and direction, says John Cronkwright, 40, a civil engineer from Liverpool, N.Y. "If we start telling these companies, 'You've got to make this product and that product,' that's not really the American way of free enterprise," he says. "That's more toward socialism."
• In the middle is a group that supports Obama's plan but without much enthusiasm. Most say the government needs to take action to fix the country's economic problems; they also want government's reach cut back when the crisis is over.
These reluctant supporters, 15% of respondents, make up the most bipartisan group. A majority are Democrats but nearly four in 10 are Republicans. They are evenly divided between men and women, and the group reflects the national average in income and education.
Pedro Navarro, 21, lives in Muskegon, which has the highest unemployment rate of anywhere in hard-hit Michigan. He is working in a factory that makes truck parts but has seen friends and family members lose their jobs. As for the rescue plan for Detroit, "I believe it's warranted to keep the auto industry up on its feet. Otherwise, the industry will pretty much go under."
Even so, he worries about the government wasting money, and he says it "should step back a little bit" when businesses regain their footing.
• The final group is conflicted and uncertain. They both approve of the job Obama is doing and oppose most of the initiatives he has proposed. This group, 27% of respondents, has the lowest average income and education levels of the four groups as well as the largest proportion of women.
"I'm not sitting where I can see all the ins-and-outs," says Edna Baatile, 60, of Tulsa, a former human resources manager for American Airlines. "I guess I just have to keep praying every day for the president and his advisers that they make the right decisions, because nobody knows."
The USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,007 adults, which has a margin of error of +/—3 percentage points, was taken March 27-29 by land line and cellphone.
|posted by citizen jerk @ 11:45 AM