Do Peoples Worries Change Depending on Who is in the White House?

This image has gone around Facebook:

So I wondered, “Do American’s worry about different things depending on who is in the White House?”

I found the Gallup poll mentioned in the Facebook post. It’s pretty interesting. Every few years they asked this question:

In your opinion, which of the following will be the biggest threat to the country in the future — big business, big labor, or big government?

The images were broken on so I took the data in the full report  and made my own chart. Take a look:


This chart says a lot!

For instance, big labor? Look at that long slow slide. Nobody worries about  big labor any more.

“No Opinion”? No way! Everyone has an opinion now, which wasn’t the case 50 years ago! Maybe this is due to the increased connectivity of our country now (CNN, internet, etc…)

Look at the long slow trend of worry about big government. Is this trend based on the political affiliation of the president? Not really. Is it based on individual president’s actions? Sometimes, yes. For instance, people got more concerned about big government with Johnson’s big-government programs. And look at how Bush temporarily shifted worries toward big business. But there is an overarching trend of worry about big government over the past 50 years that supersedes any president.

Now to the question at hand, “is the federal government too powerful?” This chart can’t answer that question directly but it can say that for the last 50 years people have very consistently been almost exactly twice as worried about big government as they have about big business.

Compared over each president’s full term:
Johnson shifted the worries a little toward government and then it recovered after his term.
Carter, Reagan, and Clinton kept relative worries about even.
It looks like Obama is shifting worries a little toward government.

My initial take away is: Obama isn’t making people much more worried than they might otherwise be about big government.



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