Poll finds shift toward more libertarian views

An ongoing CNN poll has produced signs that Americans are leaning toward more libertarian views than in past years, Nate Silver says at FiveThirtyEight, his New York Times blog, as more people express the belief that government is trying to do too much and should stay away from social issues.His analysis is based on two questions:

Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?

Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?

In recent years, growing numbers of respondents have chosen the first view in the first question and the second view in the second, reflecting a more libertarian perspective, Silver says.

“Whether people are as libertarian-minded in practice as they might believe themselves to be when they answer survey questions is another matter,” Silver acknowledges. Or, as one reader commented, “Government is only on people’s backs when it does something for someone else.”