This marks the first time in eight years that as many Americans have expressed a preference for a bigger as a smaller government. Support for bigger government has increased 7 percentage points since last September, when more said they preferred a smaller government offering fewer services (50%) than a bigger government providing more services (41%). The last time the public was divided on this question was in October 2008, just prior to the election of Barack Obama.
The partisan gap in views of the size of government remains as wide as ever. About three-quarters (74%) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they prefer a smaller government providing fewer services, while just 21% want a bigger government. Views among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are nearly the reverse: By 65% to 27%, more prefer a bigger government with more services.