The Washington Post flagged an interesting new report from Global Strategy Group, a major Democratic public-affairs firm, which conducted surveys over the summer on public attitudes towards government. The results are worth keeping in mind as the 2016 cycle stakes shape.
Asked, for example, what people see as the biggest problem with the federal government, the responses included some surprises:
1. Corrupt (23 percent)
2. Inefficient (18%)
3. Out of touch (17%)
4. Wasteful (14%)
5. Too big (9%)
6. Doesn’t reflect my views (7%)
7. Not transparent (6%)
8. Unresponsive (4%)
9. Not inclusive (2%)
For what it's worth, my list of complaints about the federal government would look quite a bit different, but the results are nevertheless interesting. As the Post's report noted, if the research is accurate, it suggests voter "want to fix government more than shrink it."
Indeed, note the placement of "too big" on the list.
“The Republican argument for smaller government is effective because it is simple and easy to understand, but it doesn’t deal with the root cause of frustration,” Nick Gourevitch, who leads Global Strategy Group’s research practice, told the Post. “Democrats have an opportunity to be the adults in the room, saying ‘we want to fix the thing, make it work, make it more responsive.’”
I don't think it's a coincidence that when Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign in April, she identified as one of her four "pillars" a focus on fixing “our dysfunctional political system and get[ting] unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment."
GSG's Gourevitch added, “Voters are in a let’s-fix-it mode, not a slash-and-burn, cut-the-thing down mentality."
The memo itself is online here (pdf). Note that a majority of Americans are "confident" that the federal government is still "capable of doing positive things for the country."
That's more than I would have guessed.