Almost half of all Americans believe the U.S. government poses an "immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens," according to a new Gallup poll released Monday.
Forty-nine percent of respondents said the government is an immediate threat, similar to levels seen throughout President Obama's tenure. Another 49 percent said the government is not a threat.
"Too many laws/government too big in general" was cited by 19 percent of respondents as the reason for believing the government poses a threat, while 15 percent said violations of freedoms and civil liberties was the reason, and 12 percent took issue with gun control and Second Amendment violations. Ten percent said the government is too involved in people's private lives.
When Gallup first asked the question in 2003, only 30 percent of Americans said the government was a threat, likely due to Americans holding a more positive attitude of the government after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Gallup said the results indicate antipathy toward the political party controlling the White House, rather than a fixed fundamental or philosophical dislike of government, noting that Republicans and Democrats flipped in their probability of holding these views when administrations changed in 2009.
This year, 65 percent of Republicans said the government is an immediate threat, while only 32 percent of Democrats agreed.
"Across the four surveys conducted during the Republican administration of George W. Bush, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents were consistently more likely than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents to say the federal government posed an immediate threat," wrote Gallup's Frank Newport. "By contrast, across the four most recent surveys conducted during the Democratic Obama administration, the partisan gap flipped, with Republicans significantly more likely to agree."
The survey was conducted Sept. 9-13 among a random sample of 1,025 adults across the country and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 9 percentage points.
Another survey from earlier this month found that 71 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed, and only 2 percent trust the government all the time, as HNGN reported.