Americans have shifted back to favoring a more hands-off approach for government in addressing the nation’s problems after a rare endorsement of a more active role last year. Currently, 52% say the government is doing too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses, while 43% want the government to do more to solve the country’s problems. In contrast, a record-high 54% of U.S. adults last year said the government should do more to solve problems.
Gallup’s question on the proper government role is asked as part of its annual Governance survey, conducted Sept. 1–17 this year. The shift toward favoring a more active government role in 2020 was seen among Democrats and independents but not Republicans — likely a response to the coronavirus pandemic and in particular to then-President Donald Trump’s approach to handling it. Trump generally opposed government efforts designed to slow the spread of the virus, such as face mask requirements and business and school closures.
Last year marked only the second time in Gallup’s 29-year trend that at least half of Americans endorsed an active role for the government on this item. The other pro-government response came in the weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks amid heightened concern about terrorism and a surge in trust in government.