Gallup: 46 Percent Say U.S. Government 'Poses Immediate Threat to the Rights and Freedoms' of U.S. Citizens

October 13, 2010 - 12:39 PM

President Barack Obama, George Washington University

President Barack Obama speaks at George Washington University in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) - The percentage of Americans who think the federal government poses “an immediate threat” to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens has increased significantly over the last seven years, rising from 30 percent to 46 percent, according to a Gallup poll conducted Sept. 13-16 and released today.

Only 51 percent of Americans now say they do not think the federal government poses “an immediate threat” to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.

Similarly, the percentage of Americans who think the federal government has too much power has also significantly increased, from 39 percent in 2002 to 59 percent today.

In its Sept. 13-16 polling, Gallup asked the 46 percent of respondents who said that they think the federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of Americans in “what ways” they think the government is posing this threat. The top four answers were that the government has too many laws and is too big in general, that it is too involved in people’s private lives, that it is threatening freedom of speech, and that the health-care law signed by President Barack Obama is a threat.

Since 2003, Gallup has periodically asked adult Americans this question: “Do you think the federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens, or not?”

When Gallup first asked the question in September 2003, 30 percent said, yes, they did think the federal government posed an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens and 68 percent said, no, it did not. In September 2004, 35 percent said, yes, and 63 percent said, no. In September 2005, 37 percent said, yes, and 62 percent said, no. And in September 2006, 44 percent said, yes, and 54 percent said, no.

This September, 46 percent said, yes, they think the federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Only 51 percent said, no.

Gallup asked the 46 percent who said yes, this follow-up question: “In what ways do you see the government posing an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of its citizens?” The answers broke down as follows:

Answer                                                                               Percentage

Too many laws/Gov’t too big in general                                    18

Too much involvement in people's private lives                         17

Taking away freedom of speech/violating First Amendment      15

Healthcare law                                                                           11

Socialist government                                                                  8

Overtaxing/Taxes too high                                                         7

Taking away freedom of religion                                                 6

Gun control/violating Second Amendment                                  6

Failing to secure borders/Illegal immigration                              3

Over-regulation/Too much involvement in business                   3

Too much spending                                                                    2

Marriage issue                                                                            2

Other                                                                                          3

None/Nothing                                                                             2

No opinion                                                                                  9

Republicans and Independents were more likely than Democrats to say they think the federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Sixty-six percent of Republicans said this was the case, 49 percent of Independents, and 21 percent of Democrats.

Since 2002, Gallup has also periodically asked this question: “Do you think the federal government today has too much power, has about the right amount of power, or has too little power?” When Gallup most recently asked this question in its poll conducted Sept. 13-16, 59 percent said the federal government has too much power, 33 percent said it has the right amount of power, and 8 percent said it has too little power.

In a poll conducted, Sept. 5-8, 2002, only 39 percent said they thought the federal government had too much power, while 52 percent said it had the right amount of power, and 7percent said it had too little power.

Gallup has asked this question about the federal government's power ten times over the last eight years. The last time fewer than 50 percent of Americans said they thought the federal government had too much power was in a poll conducted Sept. 13-15, 2004. At that time 42 percent said the federal government had too much power, 49 percent said it had the right amount of power, and 7 percent said it had too little power.