Most Americans trust people, not leaders

The Rasmussen Reports polling firm defines “Mainstream Americans” as those who “tend to trust the wisdom of the crowd more than their political leaders and are skeptical of both big government and big business”. This group now makes about two thirds of the American public. The other extreme point in their scale – those who support the political class – make a mere 4%. The rest place themselves somewhere in between the extremes.

More from the findings:

Polling conducted from January 18 through January 24 found that 76% of voters generally trust the American people more than political leaders on important national issues. Seventy-one percent (71%) view the federal government as a special interest group, and 70% believe that the government and big business typically work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors. On each question, a majority of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters share those views.

The last point – the fact that such views are common across the standard political spectrum – reveals that the stereotypes of groups along that spectrum are misleading. Rasmussen Reports add:

Over time, we have found that those with Mainstream views often have a very different perspective from those who support the Political Class. In many cases, the gap between the Mainstream view and the Political Class is larger than the gap between Mainstream Republicans and Democrats.

3 Responses

  1. A conservative blog makes a similar point at…

    That blog cites a book by Rasmussen indicating that “45% believe people randomly selected from the phone book would do a better job than the current Congress. Only 36% disagree.” Sounds like an interesting book.

    Frankly, I’d like to believe that the number of conservatives interested in random selection right now is unrelated to the fact that they have tiny minorities in both houses of the U.S. Congress. I’d like to believe they’ll still like the idea if and when they retake control, but I really doubt it. (I especially doubt it when the conservative blogger in question says he loved journalism until the communist takeover of the mid 90s. Is living in the reality-based community really so hard?)


  2. The book may indeed be interesting. A while back I read a book by another pollster, Frank M. Newport from Gallup (“Polling Matters: Why Leaders Must Listen to the Wisdom of the People”). It was a mixture of “mainstream” and elitist sentiments. True to his profession and as the title suggests, he proposed using polls to direct public policy to some extent, but (of course) he would not go to such absurd extremes as calling for a government by a statsitical sample of the people. I wonder if Rasmussen dares to go further. If so, he may be a powerful ally.

    Regarding conservatives being opportunistic in their “mainstream” views: If this is so, it is only reasonable. I, too, would be less inclined to support a reform (of any kind) if the current government was doing a reasonably good job representing what I perceive as the interests of the citizens. Why risk a change when nothing is obviously wrong? The important point is that these notions are not simply a way to bash Obama or the Democrats – many conservatives have disapproved of Bush and the Republicans as well, and are therefore looking for a radical alternative, not merely a different person to elect.


  3. […] Better Than Current Congress Posted on February 21, 2010 by Yoram Gat It turns out that in my recent post about Rasmussen’s “Mainstream voters” I missed the most juicy part. The irreverence of the “childlike” majority may come as a […]


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