Why the American People and Political Parties Don’t Always

The push for rollbacks of government regulations is strong in both Jeff City and Washington, DC.

Democrats support some government regulation of the economy, for example, while Republicans are more likely to oppose these regulations or rules.

But what about the people?

Well, it all depends on the issue.

A recent Pew Research Center survey finds that 54% of the public say government regulations are needed to make both consumers and businesses rely on renewable energy sources.

But the same survey also says the public wants affordable energy and jobs.

These goals aren’t mutually exclusive, at least theoretically, but the energy sector—like all areas of the American economy—is complex.

Finding [and agreeing] on the balance between regulation and industry flexibility in response to market demand is an elusive key to all this.

But, lest you think most of the public is now on the regulation bandwagon, remember opinion depends on the issue.

According to Gallup, 6 in 10 Americans want the government to make marijuana legal—representing the ultimate lifting of a government regulation.

All this is to say that election soundbites from candidates about government regulation really don’t get at the complexity of public opinion on just how much government is too much or just right.

Brian Calfano holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Texas and is associate professor the political science and journalism departments at Cincinnati University. He has published over 50 academic journal articles and other manuscripts on public opinion, religion and politics, media, and related topics.