A new survey paints a more nuanced picture of public attitudes about government and business …

To hear the politicians in Washington talk, the American people are either looking for government to solve society’s ills … or they want government to butt out completely.

2013 Public Affairs Pulse SurveySuch black-and-white perspectives rarely turn out to be accurate … and now we have additional proof in the form of a May 2013 telephone survey of ~1,600 adults living in the United States, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates for the Public Affairs Council, a leading professional organization for public affairs executives (nonpartisan).

Among the key takeaways of the 2013 Public Affairs Pulse survey research:

  • Trust in business:  Three out of four respondents feel that major companies generally do a good job of “providing useful goods and services,” and two-thirds also believe they’re doing a good job of serving their customers.  But by similar margins, they also believe that companies should take on more responsibility in providing community services like quality education, affordable healthcare, and food banks.
  • Government regulations:  Opinions are split;  a slight majority (~52%) feels that government regulation of business “usually does more harm than good” … but ~44% believe that “regulation is necessary to protect the public interest.”
  • Trust in government declines with age (and familiarity?):  A majority of Millennials give the federal government favorable scores, compared to ~44% of Gen Xers and just 35% of Baby Boomers.

Another figure stands out, too:  Only around 37% of the respondents express “a lot” or “some” trust and confidence in the government’s ability to fix the country’s problems.  This finding appears to support the notion that the government is not a panacea for the nation’s problems.

Michael Barone, political analyst and observer
Political analyst Michael Barone first espoused the idea of the “50/50 nation” following the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

But the survey results also underscore the theory espoused by Michael Barone, Mickey Kaus and other observers of the American electorate that America remains a “50/50” nation when it comes to the political parties and their philosophical underpinnings.

… And that puts us right back where we we’ve been for the past decade and a half … despite the posturing of our political leaders.

For additional findings from the 2013 Public Affairs Pulse survey, click here.

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