Most think government is doing too much, poll shows

President Barack Obama speaks on stage as he accepts the nomination for president during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on Sept. 6, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Alex Wong

(CBS News) Following the Democratic National Convention, President Obama gained a slight edge in polls over Mitt Romney, but a new survey shows that most Americans still think the government is meddling in too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses -- a belief that aligns more closely with Romney's campaign.

According to Gallup, 54 percent of Americans say the government is doing too much, while just 39 percent say it should be doing more to solve the nation's problems. The poll was conducted Sept. 6-9, overlapping with the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.

At the convention, Mr. Obama called this year's presidential election "the clearest choice of any time in a generation." While Romney and Republicans have called for reductions in regulations and the repeal of sweeping pieces of legislation like Mr. Obama's health care law - the Affordable Care Act - the president has tried to cast their preferences for limited government as too extreme.

"This is what the election comes down to," Mr. Obama said. "Over and over, we've been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way, that since government can't do everything, it should do almost nothing."

The Gallup poll shows that, unsurprisingly, views on the role of government are partisan. Two-thirds of Democrats think the government should do more while 82 percent of Republicans say it's doing too much. Among independents, 62 percent say it's doing too much.

Over the past 20 years, there have been only a few instances in which more Americans have told Gallup that the government could be doing more -- in the fall of 1992, in early 1993 and October 2001.

In a separate question, most Americans -- 51 percent -- told Gallup that the federal government currently has too much power. Another 40 percent said it has about the right amount, and 8 percent said it has too little.

Again, the responses are partisan. Republicans are more likely to say the federal government has too much power, but from 2002 to 2008 -- under a Republican president -- Democrats were more likely to say it had too much power.

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