Economy

Republicans, Democrats Disagree on Gov't Role in Creating Jobs

by Frank Newport

Americans' top job-creation recommendation is to keep manufacturing jobs in U.S.

PRINCETON, NJ -- Republicans and Democrats are sharply divided on the government's role in creating jobs in the United States. Republicans are more likely to say reduced government regulation and involvement will lead to more jobs, while Democrats focus more on government involvement such as funding infrastructure work. Similar percentages in both groups, however, say the best way to create more jobs is to stop sending work overseas.

In your opinion, what would be the best way to create more jobs in the United States? [OPEN-ENDED] October 2011 results by party

These results are based on responses to an open-ended question asking Americans to give their thoughts on "the best way to create more jobs in the United States." Gallup has asked this question three times over the last two years, most recently in an Oct. 6-9 survey.

The top recommendation among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents is keeping manufacturing jobs in the U.S., followed by less government involvement and lower taxes. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents' top recommendation is spending more on infrastructure jobs, and then keeping manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

Republicans and Democrats in roughly equal numbers mention doing more to help small businesses, raising taxes on imports, improving education, and hiring Americans rather than illegal immigrants as ways to create more jobs.

These views on creating more jobs offer solutions that address what Americans perceive to be the most important problem facing the nation at this point and a problem that is at the top of the list of priorities for most politicians.

President Obama is pressing Congress to take action on his proposed comprehensive jobs bill, and is touring the country touting its benefits. Republican leaders and GOP candidates for president also agree that something should be done about jobs, with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell saying on Thursday, "The American people want us to do something about the jobs crisis." The difficulty lies in the lack of consensus as to exactly what that "something" is.

The Senate on Thursday defeated a bill introduced by Democratic leaders that would have sent federal money to state governments in an effort to save state jobs. At the same time, the Senate also defeated a bill proposed by Republican leaders that would have scuttled a pending 3% withholding tax on payments to federal contractors.

Americans' Top Recommendation Is Still Bringing Jobs Back Home

Americans' most frequently offered recommendation on how to create more jobs -- as it has been each of the three times Gallup has asked this question -- is to focus on keeping manufacturing jobs in the U.S. rather than exporting them overseas.

Americans also prioritize creating more infrastructure work, reducing government involvement in the business world (including less regulation), lowering taxes, helping small businesses, and putting higher taxes on imported goods. Over the last two years, Americans have become somewhat more likely to mention reduced government regulation in response to the "create more jobs" question, and slightly less likely to mention helping small businesses.

2009-2011 trend: In your opinion, what would be the best way to create more jobs in the United States? [OPEN-ENDED]

Bottom Line

It appears that elected representatives in Washington will please Americans of all political persuasions if they develop ways of keeping manufacturing jobs in the U.S. so they are not exported overseas. Beyond that, actions to create jobs that involve using the power of the federal government are likely to run into political trouble from one side or the other. While Republicans want government to do less, including lowering taxes, Democrats want it to do more, including spending on infrastructure. These differing views on how best to create jobs underscore how difficult it is for Washington to take action on the jobs front without suffering political consequences from a divided citizenry.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 6-9, 2011 with a random sample of 1,005 adults aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

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