Americans Don't Prefer A Smaller Government Anymore

A new poll shows increased support for bigger government and increased federal spending.
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Public opinion on the role of government is shifting. President Trump continues to struggle on job approval. And we take an early look at the French election runoff. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, April 25, 2017.

AMERICANS SPLIT ON THE IDEAL SIZE OF THE GOVERNMENT - Pew Research: “As Congress faces an April 28 deadline to fund government operations, the public is now split in their general preferences on the size and scope of government: 48% say they would rather have a bigger government providing more services, while 45% prefer a smaller government providing fewer services. This marks the first time in eight years that as many Americans have expressed a preference for a bigger as a smaller government. Support for bigger government has increased 7 percentage points since last September, when more said they preferred a smaller government offering fewer services (50%) than a bigger government providing more services (41%). The last time the public was divided on this question was in October 2008, just prior to the election of Barack Obama….The national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted April 5-11 among 1,501 adults, also finds broad support for maintaining or increasing federal spending across 14 specific program areas. And public support for increased spending across most programs is now significantly higher than it was in 2013, a time when public concerns about the budget deficit were on the rise.” [Pew]

Pew Research

PRESIDENT TRUMP IS FAILING TO WIN ANY NEW SUPPORTERS - Dan Balz and Scott Clement: “President Trump nears the 100-day mark of his administration as the least popular chief executive in modern times, a president whose voters remain largely satisfied with his performance, but one whose base of support has not expanded since he took the oath of office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Trump’s first months in office have produced some tangible successes. Beyond the continued enthusiasm of his most loyal supporters, a small majority of Americans see him as a strong leader. A bigger majority approves of his efforts to pressure U.S. companies to keep jobs in this country. Those who say the economy is getting better outnumber those who say it’s getting worse by the biggest margin in 15 years in Post-ABC polling. But the president’s balance sheet overall tilts toward the negative….The 100-day marker is in part an artificial measuring post for any president, but by comparison, Trump has reached this point in his presidency faring worse to much worse than other recent presidents. An electorate that was deeply divided throughout the 2016 campaign remains so today, with opposition seemingly hardened and unyielding on most questions regarding his presidency.” [WashPost]

Americans rate Trump’s presidency as off to a ‘poor start’ - Mark Murray: “Nearly two-thirds of Americans give President Donald Trump poor or middling marks for his first 100 days in office, including a plurality who say he’s off to a ‘poor start,’ according to results from a brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Forty-five percent of respondents in the survey believe Trump is off to a poor start, with an additional 19 percent who say it’s been ‘only a fair start.’ That’s compared with a combined 35 percent who think the president’s first three months in office have been either ‘good’ or ‘great.’...The new NBC/WSJ poll also shows an erosion in some of Trump’s top perceived qualities, with 50 percent of respondents giving Trump high marks for being firm and decisive in his decision-making - down from the 57 percent who gave him high marks here in February….The best news for President Trump in the poll is on the issue of Syria...50 percent of all Americans say they approve of Trump’s handling of Syria - 10 points higher than his overall approval rating.” [NBC]

Trump’s approve/disapprove ratings as of Tuesday morning, per HuffPost Pollster’s aggregate:

-Among all Americans: 43/53

-Among Democrats: 12/86

-Among Republicans: 85/12

-Among independents: 40/53

-On the economy: 43/45

-On health care: 35/53

-On foreign policy: 40/50

MARINE LE PEN AND EMMANUEL MACRON WILL MOVE ON TO COMPETE FOR FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION - Willa Frej and Nick Robins-Early: “The preliminary results of France’s first round of presidential elections are in, and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen appear set to face each other in the runoff on May 7. Early projections on Sunday predicted Macron would win with 23.7 percent of the vote and Le Pen would take home 21.7 percent. Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and conservative Republican party leader Francois Fillon were narrowly edged out of the final round. Those numbers were early estimates released after polls closed at 8 p.m. local time. Final results are expected later this evening.” [HuffPost]

Surveys give Macron a significant lead - Macron leads Le Pen by about 26 points, 63 percent to 37 percent, in Pollster’s aggregate of runoff polling as of Tuesday morning. No survey to date has shown Macron with less than a 16-point edge. [Pollster chart]

Could France be the next shock election result? - Nate Silver: “Macron is an overwhelming favorite to win the runoff on May 7. But we’re likely to hear two weeks of punditry that draws misleading comparisons between Le Pen, President Trump and Brexit — and that exaggerates Le Pen’s chances as a result. Although vote counts are still being finalized, the first-round result should be a good one for pollsters, which correctly had Macron and Le Pen in the top two positions….[W]hile there were plenty of precedents for a polling error large enough to elect Trump, there aren’t all that many examples of a 26-point polling error, which is what Le Pen would need….[T]here’s no evidence that candidates such as Le Pen systematically outperform their polls. Across dozens of European elections since 2012, in fact, nationalist and right-wing parties have been as likely to underperform their polls as to overperform them.” [538, more on Le Pen’s chances from The Economist]

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TUESDAY’S ‘OUTLIERS’ - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-A new poll finds little support for the GOP’s latest Obamacare repeal efforts. [WashPost]

-Nate Cohn reviews the unusually strong turnout for Democrats in the first round of voting for the Georgia Sixth special election. [NYT]

-Ben Wieder notes that scientists donate more to Democratic candidates than Republicans. [538]

-Tania Lombrozo writes that public perceptions of science are often tied to political ideology. [NPR]

-Philip Bump delves into public opinion on abortion. [WashPost]

-Ella Washington and Frank Newport examine the workplace repercussions of last year’s election. [Gallup]

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