Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz campaigns in Wisconsin.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz campaigns in Wisconsin. Darren Hauck / AP

Most Americans Disagree With Ted Cruz’s Proposal To Eliminate Several Federal Agencies

Poll also finds that the public isn’t wild about shrinking the government workforce.

Americans like to grouse about the government, but that hasn’t translated into support for eliminating several federal agencies, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Sixty-three percent of respondents to a March poll said they disagreed with a proposal from Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz to get rid of the departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development; 18 percent favored Cruz-style elimination, and 18 percent stated they didn’t know enough to have an opinion. Poll respondents also rejected the idea of doing away with the Internal Revenue Service, historically one of the least popular federal agencies, especially at this time of year. Forty-four percent of respondents said they don’t support eliminating the IRS, while 34 percent favored getting rid of the agency, and 21 percent said they didn't “know enough to say,” according to the poll.

“This presents a fascinating portrait of a population of people who are very negative about government in general, and yet tend to be unenthusiastic about proposals to eliminate a lot of government,” wrote Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor-in-chief, in a March 16 analysis of the March 9-14 poll.

Gallup also asked respondents whether they agreed with Cruz proposals to impose a hiring freeze on all civilian jobs in the government, and reduce the total number of federal employees through attrition. Thirty-three percent agreed with the hiring freeze proposal, while 28 percent disagreed, and 39 percent said they didn’t know enough about the issue to have an opinion. As for Cruz’s idea that three federal workers should leave government before one new employee is hired, just 29 percent agreed with that proposal. Thirty-one percent didn’t support it, and 40 percent didn’t “know enough to say.”

The majority of Americans have a poor view of government – it’s wasteful, too powerful and poses “an immediate threat” to citizens’ rights -- according to Gallup’s findings. Those anti-government sentiments ought to provide fertile ground for Cruz’s proposals to grow support. But that’s not the case, Newport said, based on Gallup’s findings. One reason could be that Americans are mostly mad at Congress (see that institution’s 13 percent approval rating), not necessarily government agencies and employees, said Newport. Another is that the public simply isn’t completely sold on limiting government.

“Our research, in fact, shows that only about a third of Americans favor limiting government to performing only basic functions, a third favor government being empowered to do all it can to fix problems, and a third are in the middle between these two extremes,” Newport wrote. “Thus, Cruz is simply fighting an apparent uphill battle – with the public taken as a whole – in his philosophical position that government must be scaled back.”