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28 May, 2013 20:49

Majority of Americans say feds have too much power

Majority of Americans say feds have too much power

A new poll has found that the majority of all Americans believe the federal government has too much power – news that comes in wake of numerous government scandals, including the IRS’ targeting of conservatives and the feds’ targeting of journalists.

Gallup on Monday released survey findings indicating that 54 percent of Americans consider the federal government too powerful, while only eight percent say it is not powerful enough and 36 percent says it has just the right amount of power.

“Americans’ views of federal power have become a renewed focal point in recent weeks with allegations that the IRS used its power to selectively audit certain types of organizations, and news reports of Justice Department investigations into Associated Press and Fox News records and e-mails,” Gallup writes before announcing the results of its survey.

The number of Americans who perceive the government as too powerful resembles 2005 figures and is only slightly higher than 2012 figures. The number is also marginally lower than 2010 and 2011 findings.

The survey results show a drastic difference between Democrats’ and Republicans’ views on federal power. About 76 percent of Republicans believe the government has too much power, while only 32 percent of Democrats believe so. Independents generally answered like Republicans, Gallup reports. 

Of the 1,016 survey respondents, 48 percent said they also believed the federal government “poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.”

The numbers have remained relatively steady since 2005, despite recent cases in which the government may have overstepped its constitutional rights. Even though the majority of Americans consider the feds too powerful, the IRS’ recent targeting of conservative groups and the Justice Department’s secret investigation of AP and Fox reporters appears not to have drastically impacted the poll results. Gallup explains that it might take longer for Americans’ views about the federal government to change significantly – especially since this term encompasses all departments.

“The relative stability of these measures suggests that the current news focused on allegations of misuse of government power has not had an immediate impact on the public's views of the federal government, at least as measured by these two questions,” Gallup writes. “At the same time, an update on Americans' views of the IRS shows significantly more negative attitudes now than in 2009, underscoring the idea that the current scandals' impact may be more localized to specific agencies rather than generalized to the entire federal government. “