Nov 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Regulation nation: How Americans view government's role in industry

Change in the share of Americans who say select industries have too little government regulation
Data: Public Affairs Council; Chart: Axios Visuals

Democratic and Republican voters are less likely than they were just four years ago to favor stronger regulation of large financial and pharmaceutical companies, data show. At the same time, both parties are more likely to favor stricter regulation of big technology firms.

Why it matters: Elected officials of both parties have taken a populist turn in recent years. But survey data from the Public Affairs Council suggest voters' views of heavier government regulation vary widely by industry.

By the numbers: Despite increasing GOP skepticism toward Wall Street, just 18% of Republicans surveyed said they felt banks and financial institutions are under-regulated.

  • That's down from 32% in the same survey in 2018.
  • Democrats are trending in the same direction: 34% said they want stricter regulation of large financial firms, down from 42% four years ago.

The COVID-19 pandemic coincided with similar movement when it comes to drug regulation.

  • The share of Democrats who feel drug companies are under-regulated dropped slightly, from 52% in 2018 to 49% this year.
  • Among Republicans, it declined from 47% to 36%.

The major exception is Big Tech.

  • The share of Republicans supporting stricter regulation increased markedly, from 23% to 31%.
  • It jumped even more among Democrats, from 27% to 39%.
  • Democrats were also far more likely in 2022 than in 2018 to favor greater regulation of large retail companies, which includes brick-and-mortar chains but also online giants like Amazon.

Some notable partisan divides remain.

  • Democrats' views on health insurance regulation have remained steady, with just under half saying the industry is under-regulated.
  • Republicans were far more supportive of insurance regulation four years ago, when nearly 4 in 10 wanted more government controls. Now just over a quarter say they do.
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