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Why Politics? 43% Say for Positive Change, 43% to Fend Off Government

Voters remain closely divided over whether their fellow countrymen get involved in politics to bring about needed change or to keep the government at bay.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 43% of Likely U.S. Voters think most Americans get involved in politics to help make the country better. But the identical number (43%) say most get politically active to protect themselves from what the government might do. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This is generally consistent with findings for the past two years. 

Yet while voters believe church and community volunteer work is more important than politics when it comes to being a good citizen, they have slightly more faith now in the government as an avenue for change. Forty-three percent (43%) of voters say new government programs and policies are more likely than volunteer activities and organizations to bring about the change needed in the country. Thirty-nine percent (39%) disagree and have more confidence in volunteerism. Eighteen percent (18%) are undecided.

At this time last year and in June 2009, those findings, while still close, were reversed. 

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The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on May 29-30, 2011 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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