The recent standoff at the Nevada ranch of Cliven Bundy has reignited feelings about the proper role of the federal government in the U.S., and whether the feds have become too intrusive in the lives of Americans. While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) calls supporters of Bundy "domestic terrorists," a new survey shows more Americans are on the side of Bundy than Reid. The new poll from Rasmussen Reports surveyed 1,000 Likely Voters to find their feelings about the role of the federal government. It revealed that 37% now say they fear the federal government, and just 19% believe the federal government today has the consent of the governed.
Fran Coombs, Managing Director at Rasmussen Reports, tells KTRH that based on the results of other survey questions, it is not surprising that more than a third of Americans now fear the government. "In part I'm sure that's because only 22% of voters now regard the federal government as a protector of individual liberty, whereas 54% consider the government a threat to their individual liberty," he says. Those numbers represent a dramatic shift in public opinion in a relatively short period of time. "As recently as December 2012, just a year and a half ago, people were evenly divided when they were asked the 'protector vs. threat' individual rights question," says Coombs.
The sharp downturn in trust and belief in the federal government does not bode well for Democrats and the Obama Administration, since Dems tend to be the party of a bigger, more active federal government. "This is a fairly dramatic shift we see, particular when we have an administration that champions government," says Coombs. "The President has repeatedly spoken of the positive aspects of the government." It appears that recent events, including the botched rollout of Obamacare and Cliven Bundy's battle with the BLM contributed to this shift in public opinion. "People are taking an increasingly negative view of the federal government," says Coombs. "Perhaps the Bundy incident out in Nevada has heightened those perceptions, but there's no doubt that people are viewing the federal government more negatively these days."