Washington Post-Kaiser-Harvard Poll

The Role of Government Survey

What do Americans really expect from Washington? Has public opinion about of the role of government changed dramatically in this new age of government here, there and everywhere? Is the Obama administration badly out of sync with voters when it comes to robust federal action?

The results from a new, large-scale Washington Post-Kaiser-Harvard poll on the role of government help answer these ripe questions, and show how lumping people into big vs. small government types distracts from the more complicated, interesting reality. Read the story »

The results of the Poll

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Describing the government*


The Negative: When asked to describe the federal government in a single word, three-quarters of Americans use a negative word.

The Neutral/Positive: While "Good" is the second most frequently chosen word to describe the federal government, only a handful of the most used words are positive or neutral.

*Note: Words used by at least five respondents.

Move coverage: Behind the Numbers »

Complete poll results (pdf) »

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SOURCE: Washington Post-Kaiser-Harvard poll.
GRAPHICS: Laura Stanton and Kenneth W. Smith Jr. - The Washington Post, October 10, 2010