Gallup: ‘Too Big’ Is Most Common Description Americans Give Federal Government

By Terence P. Jeffrey | October 11, 2010 | 2:18 PM EDT

President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

( - It was not even close.

When the USA Today/Gallup poll asked 981 Americans "if someone asked you to describe the federal government in one word or phrase,” there was one phrase people used far more frequently than any other: “Too big.”

Thirty-four respondents spontaneously emitted exactly those two words—“too big”--in response to Gallup's inquiry. That does not count the many others who used a slight variation on “too big” or used other terms to express the same basic judgment about the size of the federal government.

Two respondents, for example, used three words, saying, “It’s too big,” instead of just “too big.”

Others said it’s “way too big,” “getting too big,” “getting too big and intrusive,” “too big and too invasive,” “too big and too intrusive,” “too big and too costly,” “dysfunctional and too big,” and “too big, large and inefficient.”

Seven simply said it was “big,” while 3 said it was “huge.”

One said it was “out of control—too big,” while 3 said it was simply “out of control.”

People chose synonymous words and phrases that more or less politely or graphically expressed their view that the federal government is excessive.  Nine bluntly declared it “bloated,” another 9 politely said it is “inefficient.” A full ten called it “wasteful.” Four noted it is “intrusive,” while 2 stated flatly it is “big brother.”

The second most common word or phrase that people used to describe the federal government to Gallup was “corrupt.” Twenty-three gave that word as their response to Gallup’s question. One other person said it is “corrupted,” and another said it is “evil and corrupt.”

The third most common word or phrase was “confused.” Twenty people used that word, while another three said it was “confusing.”

One said the federal government is “constipated.”

One called it “sucky.” Two said, “They suck.” Four said, “It sucks.” Six more said succinctly: “sucks.” Another--in either a spasm of bad grammar or an effort to coin a new noun--declared: “Its suck.” Gallup, it should be noted, felt no need to censor these terms from its comprehensive list of the words and phrases people used when asked “to describe the federal government in one word or phrase.”

But nine Americans surveyed did use various terms Gallup felt compelled to transcribe as “profanity deleted” on its comprehensive list.  Two of these respondents, for example, said that the federal government was “[profanity deleted] up.” Another said it was “[profanity deleted] with Obama.”

Overall, Gallup reported, 72 percent of the responses were “clearly negative” about the federal government, and 10 percent were “clearly positive.” Eighteen percent, said Gallup, were “neutral or mixed.”

As a respondent that Gallup described as a liberal in South Carolina put it, “No se que decir.”