Banks Viewed Twice as Favorably as the Federal Government, Reason-Rupe Poll Finds

News Release

Banks Viewed Twice as Favorably as the Federal Government, Reason-Rupe Poll Finds

Survey examines how Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Michael Bloomberg and Gary Johnson could do as third-party presidential candidates and asks Americans which federal agencies theyâ??d cut

The Occupy Wall Street movement tapped into anger about bank bailouts, crony capitalism and corporate welfare, but it turns out that most Americans are mad at the federal government and not their banks. A new Reason-Rupe Poll finds 76 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of their banks and just 15 percent view them unfavorably.

In contrast, only 32 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the federal government. Sixty-two percent of voters rate the federal government unfavorably, according to the national Reason-Rupe poll of 1,200 adults on cell phones and landlines.

Forty-nine percent of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing, with 47 percent disapproving. Only 13 percent approve of the job Congress is doing, 80 percent disapprove.

Fifty-four percent of Americans also say they are more worried that the federal government will do something to make the economy worse, while 40 percent are more worried that the government will fail to take action on the economy.

State governments are more popular than the feds, but only half of all Americans view them positively. As you get closer to home, 58 percent of Americans have positive views of their local governments and the same number look upon their local school districts favorably.

The survey finds people feel a lot better about private businesses. For example, 88 percent of Americans have a positive view of their grocery stores; 73 percent look favorably upon their cell phone makers; and 69 percent say they view their Internet service providers favorably.

Presidential Election

If he doesn’t win the Republican presidential nomination, Rep. Ron Paul is the best positioned candidate to make a third-party or independent run, according to the Reason-Rupe poll. Thirty-four percent of Americans say they’d consider voting for Rep. Paul if he ran as an independent or third-party presidential candidate.

A similar number, 31 percent, say they’d consider voting for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg if he made an independent run for the White House in 2012.

Yesterday, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said it’s “not too late for folks to jump in” to the presidential race. If Gov. Palin left the Republican Party and ran as an independent, 27 percent of voters say they might vote for her. The problem for Gov. Palin: 67 percent of Americans would not consider voting for her in that scenario.

It has been reported that former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is considering running as the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate. Twenty-one percent of voters say they’d consider voting for Johnson while 29 percent say they don’t know enough about him yet.

In terms of the 2012 presidential election, 29 percent of Americans say they will definitely vote for President Obama next November and 44 percent say they will not vote for him.

Cutting Federal Departments

In a memorable Republican presidential debate moment last month, Texas Gov. Rick Perry couldn’t remember the third government agency he’d eliminate if elected president. And another GOP candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, says if he’s elected he’ll get rid of five federal agencies: Commerce, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, and Interior.

So which federal agencies are the American people most willing to eliminate or consolidate? Reason-Rupe finds 45 percent of Americans are ready to eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development and 41 percent would eliminate the Department of Energy.

The Department of Education was on both Rep. Paul’s and Gov. Perry’s lists to cut, but 61 percent of Americans want to keep it, and just 34 percent say eliminate it.

Full Poll Online

The complete Reason-Rupe survey is online at and

This Reason-Rupe poll, conducted December 3-13, 2011, surveyed a random, national sample of 1,200 adults by telephone (777 on landlines, 423 on cell phones). The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The poll was conducted for Reason Foundation by NSON Opinion Strategy.

This is part of a series of Reason-Rupe public opinion surveys dedicated to exploring what Americans really think about government and major issues. This Reason Foundation project is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.


Emily Ekins, Polling Director, Reason-Rupe Poll,
Chris Mitchell, Director of Communications, Reason Foundation (310) 367-6109