Most Americans Prefer State Government Control to Federal Government Control

'Americans' preference for state power was similar in 1981'


A Gallup poll released Monday indicates that a majority of American adults prefer power concentrated in the hands of state governments rather than the federal government.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they preferred the concept of state governments having more power versus 37 percent who preferred the federal government having more power.

Gallup explained how responses to this question have changed over time.

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Americans' preference for state power was similar in 1981 — the first year of the presidency of Ronald Reagan, who declared his support for states' rights on the prior year's campaign trail. In contrast, Americans slightly preferred federal power in the mid-1930s, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt unveiled a sweeping series of programs that increased the role of the federal government in Americans' lives.

The current lawsuit over transgender bathrooms, which is being brought predominantly by GOP-controlled states, is one of many battles states have fought against President Barack Obama's administration. Obama was unsuccessful this year in defending his executive order on allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. but won the fight to uphold the Affordable Care Act he signed into law in his first term.

There were also large differences in responses based on political affiliation. The poll shows that 78 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of independents support stronger state governments, while 62 percent of Democrats support a larger federal government.