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Americans on Government: Less, Please

New poll shows people don't seem to want government to do much of anything.

A new CNN/ORC International poll shows that only about 40 percent of registered voters want government to promote traditional values, down from 53 percent in 2010 and 57 percent in 2008. With the elections right around the corner, that result could favor Democrats, says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

But wait a minute: On another question in the survey, a large percentage of respondents -- six in 10 -- also say that government is doing too much. That's near a record high. That would seem to favor Republicans.

There's a common denominator here: right now, Americans don't seem to want the government to do much of anything. That includes the whole range of potential activities from pushing traditional values to overhauling health care. The state of public opinion on this front might  have something to do with the fact that when government -- especially Congress -- has tried to do things lately, it generally has failed to come up with effective solutions. 

In his cover story in the August issue of Government Executive, Editor at Large Tim Clark explored the issue of just what Americans want from government, noting that starting at the state and local levels, an experiment is underway in scaling back the scope of the public sector. It's looking more and more like Americans would like to extend that experiment to the highest levels of government. 

(Hat tip: Politico)