The FINANCIAL — Voters remain strongly supportive of a free market economy over one controlled by the government and still think small businesses are hurt more than big businesses when the government does get involved.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 72% of Likely U.S. Voters believe a free market economy is better than an economy managed by the government. Just 14% think a government-managed economy is better. Another 14% are not sure.
Republicans and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly prefer a free market approach. Among these segments of the electorate, the number preferring a government-managed economy is in the single digits.
Among Democrats, 48% say a free market is better, but 29% think a government-managed economy is the answer. Twenty-three percent (23%) are not sure.
Seventy-five percent (75%) of those who work for a private company give the nod to a free market economy, compared to 53% of government employees.
The majority (56%) of all voters think increased competition rather than increased government regulation is the best way to hold big business accountable. But 34% see increased regulation as the better course.
Voters also view increased competition rather than increased government regulation as a better way to protect borrowers from unfair lending practices.
The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 6-7, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
Last year, 69% of voters said when it comes to helping the economy and creating jobs, more competition and less government regulation is better than increased regulation and less competition.
These results may partially be explained by experience. Just 23% of Americans are even somewhat confident that U.S. policymakers know what they’re doing when it comes to addressing the nation’s current economic problems.
Another factor may be that many in official Washington continue to believe in Keynesian economics, a theory rejected by most Americans. In fact, only 11% of voters agree with the belief that increasing deficits would be good for the economy.
While voters are more suspicious of government involvement in the economy, they’re evenly divided when asked if a free market economy unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society: 39% say yes, while 40% disagree. Twenty-one percent (21%) are undecided.
These findings and the others in this survey are little changed from last October prior to an election in which many voters reacted angrily to what they viewed as too much government involvement in the economy.
Fifty-five percent (55%) of Democrats think a free market economy unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society, but most Republicans (58%) and a plurality (45%) of unaffiliated voters don’t share that view.
At the same time, a plurality of voters continues to believe that while free trade is good for the U.S. economy, it also costs Americans jobs.