Majority of Americans think peers rely too much on government

Brandon Bourdages/

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney isn’t the only one who believes too many Americans rely too much on government. According to a recent poll from Rasmussen Reports, 64 percent of U.S. adults share that belief.

The telephone survey asked 1,000 adults whether too many Americans depend on the government for financial aid. Only 10 percent said they did not think enough Americans depended on government; 16 percent said the level of dependency is “about right.”

Responses fell heavily along partisan lines: 89 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of those who did not affiliate with a major party believed too many Americans depend on government; 40 percent of Democrats held that view. One in three adults surveyed who identified as Democrats believed the level of dependency is “about right.”

The survey also asked questions about government anti-poverty programs: 34 percent of respondents characterized them as “effective,” and 59 percent said programs designed to help people get out of poverty are not effective, including 20 percent who told surveyers that such programs are not at all effective. Just 13 percent of the respondents considered in poverty viewed government programs as effective; 36 percent of those who were not in poverty shared those beliefs.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said they believed anti-poverty programs actually increase the level of poverty in the United States, 20 percent said they thought the programs reduce poverty, and a similar proportion said they believed the programs had no impact.

Rasmussen Reports conducted the phone survey Sept. 18-19. It has a 95 percent level of confidence and a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The findings are similar to results from prior surveys. A Rasmussen survey in July found that 47 percent of American adults think the government spends too much on poverty programs; that figure was 38 percent in April 2011.

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