Beneath the Tea Party’s Anti-Government Rallying Cry, Americans Call for Government to Do More

“Can you hear me?” That’s the recurring refrain in a radio promo for this weekend’s “Virginia Tea Party Patriots Convention,” which—with an estimated crowd of 3,000—purports to be one of the largest rallies yet of so-called “Tea Party” sympathizers. The 60-second radio spot by keynote speaker Lou Dobbs features allegedly outraged Americans repeating that line, interspersed with un-attributed stats about how Americans supposedly oppose stimulus spending, health care,  and other government spending policies  “Maybe Washington can’t hear us,” Dobbs intones dramatically, “because they’re just not listening.”

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New Poll Shows More Americans Want a Government That Does More, Not Less

Today, Project Vote released What Happened to Hope and Change? A Poll of 2008 Voters, a new report summarizing the results of a telephone survey of 1,947 Americans who voted in 2008, analyzing their views on the role of the government, government spending, and the budget. This unique poll not only surveys the historic 2008 electorate, but also includes special samples of black, low-income, and youth voters, and compares these groups both to a national sample and to self-identified “Tea Party” sympathizers.

“We wanted to learn more about the views of the black, youth, and low-income voters who overwhelmingly participated in 2008 election,” said Lorraine C. Minnite, director of research for Project Vote. “These voters represent roughly a third of the electorate, they will play an increasingly important role in American politics, and they fundamentally believe in a government that doesmore, not less. Yet their voices are largely ignored, and their views are not being represented.”

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What Americans Want

Americans are known, for better of for worse, for their strong support of “capitalism” and hesitancy towards “socialism.” A recent poll by Pew Research Center confirmed this notion, although perhaps not with the intensity one would expect. When asked what their first reaction to the word “socialism” was, 59% gave a negative response and only 29% responded positively. Their reaction to the word capitalism was exactly the opposite, 52% gave a positive response, and 37% responded negatively.

How does this translate into what Americans want from the government now? Another poll by Pew Research Center asked how much a certain solution, such as cutting taxes or additional government spending, would help to improve the current job situation. Additional spending on roads, bridges, and other public works projects scored the highest with 37% of respondents agreeing that it would “help a lot.” On the flip side, 29% asserted that cutting personal income taxes would “not help at all.” This seems rather contradictory to what capitalism would dictate to do in an economic recovery.

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Wanted: Voters’ Views on Changing Government

What do voters really think about dramatic changes already underway?

by Steven Rosenfeld

Today’s political chattering class—television barkers, talk radio hotheads, and even 2010’s most visible candidates—keep telling Americans how angry and flustered we have become, and that the solution has to do with reeling in a government run amok.

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A Representative Sample of the People Has Spoken

While it would be unwise for any politician to govern by focus group, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll offers some support and some clear suggestions for future action for the White House.  The poll, which was conducted in early February 2010, had 1,084 respondents – certainly a small group to be determining policy for 308 million Americans – but the results do resonate. 

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