Both Parties Seem To Be Having A Change Of Heart About Federal Power

A GOP White House has Democrats less enthusiastic about concentrating power at the federal level.

Democrats appear to have grown significantly warier about federal power since a Republican president took the White House, a new survey finds, while Republicans may have softened in their backing for states’ rights.

Last July, a Gallup survey found that Republicans favored concentrating power in the states, rather than the federal government, by a 61-point margin, while Democrats preferred stronger federal power by a 30-point edge.

“If presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton loses this year’s presidential election, Democrats could find themselves more amenable to concentration of power in state governments,” Gallup’s Justin McCarthy noted at the time. “Likewise, Republicans could become more open to federal power if a Republican again occupies the White House. Still, states’ rights have long been a rallying cry of the GOP, and that seems unlikely to change as a result of the coming presidential election.”

According to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey, that seems to be the case. The two surveys were conducted by different pollsters using different methods, and aren’t directly comparable. HuffPost’s, for example, unlike Gallup’s, gave people an explicit option to say they were unsure, which many chose. But the results suggest that, while Republicans are still more supportive than Democrats of states’ rights, both parties have shifted to some extent.

Republicans now favor a theory concentrating power in the states by a relatively modest 23 points, the HuffPost/YouGov survey finds. Democrats are evenly split between preferring state and federal power, with nearly half instead saying they’re not sure.

Republicans are still far more likely than Democrats to think the government holds too much influence at every level. In the HuffPost/YouGov survey, they’re 21 points likelier to think the federal government has too much power, 17 points likelier to think their state’s government has too much power, and 10 points likelier to think their local government is too powerful.

Whether they live in a red state or a blue state makes a difference. Democrats are 16 points likelier to say their state government has too much power if they live in a state with a Republican governor, while Republicans are 34 points likelier to think their state government is too powerful if it’s helmed by a Democrat than if it has a GOP governor.

Overall, 28 percent of Americans say the federal government has the most impact on them personally, 27 percent that they’re most affected by their state government, and 17 percent that they’re most affected by their local government.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Feb. 7-8 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls.You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.