Sean Gladwell/Getty

Biden’s Dilemma, Part 2: Americans Are Divided on the Size of Government

The latest in a series of infographics on Americans’ views of government reform heading into the 2024 election. 

President Biden heads toward the 2024 presidential campaign with the federal government’s job rating in decline, support for a smaller government increasing, and the demand for major government reform at a 30-year high. This series of charts and graphs explores the current landscape when it comes to Americans’ views of government reform.

President Biden launched his 2020 presidential campaign with a deep divide between respondents who favored a bigger government providing more services versus those who backed a smaller government providing fewer services. As the chart below shows, 50% of respondents surveyed in August 2020 favored a bigger government, while 43% favored a smaller government. 

Further analysis shows a significant party impact on the size of government question. Interviewed in early 2023, 49% of Democrats, 27% of independents, and just 31% of Republicans favored a bigger government providing more services, while just 14% of Democrats, 29% of independents, and 67% of Republicans favored a smaller government providing fewer services.

The trend lines and analyses presented in this series come from stand-alone random-sample surveys conducted by Lake Research Partners, Maguire Research Services, the Pew Research Center, SSRS, and the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center. Occasional data points were also harvested from search engines managed by survey aggregators such as, the Roper Center’s iPOLL database, and publicly available Pew Research Center surveys dating back to 1997. All survey findings were based on random-sample surveys of at least 1,000 respondents interviewed by cell phone and landline, with estimated error rates of 3% to 4% at a 95% confidence level.