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Many Say Government Now Operating Outside the Constitution

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Voters are clearly dubious about the size and scope of today’s federal government.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 39% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the federal government currently operates within the limits established by the Constitution of the United States.

Forty-four percent (44%) disagree and say it is not functioning within those limits, while another 17% aren’t sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Earlier surveys have shown that just one-in-five voters believe that the government today has the consent of the governed. Forty-eight percent (48%) see the government as a threat to individual rights. According to the Declaration of Independence, governments are formed to protect certain inalienable rights.

Most Americans think the Constitution is just fine the way it is and should be left alone. But 39% say the governing document doesn’t put enough restrictions on what the government can do.

As is often the case, there’s a wide gap between the perceptions of the Political Class and those of Mainstream voters when it comes to the federal government. Eighty-three percent (83%) of Political Class voters say the government now operates within constitutional limits, but 62% of those in the Mainstream don’t share that view.

One aspect of the Constitution that is frequently challenged is its protection for freedom of speech. But 85% of voters say, generally speaking, that the constitutional protection of speech is a good thing for the United States. Only six percent (6%) disagree.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on November 21-22, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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