The Hill Op-ed: Attention, Lawmakers -- Regulation Is More Popular Than You Think

Sidney Shapiro

March 3, 2021

Amid the Sturm und Drang (storm and stress) of politics these days, one fact stands out — a large majority of Americans want more regulatory protection in a wide variety of areas, according to a recent poll of likely voters.

The results are consistent with previous polls that indicate that Americans understand the importance of government regulation in protecting them from financial and health risks beyond their control. They also indicate majority support for efforts by the Biden administration to renew government regulation — as well as a stark repudiation of former President Trump’s extreme anti-regulatory agenda.

The poll, conducted in January by Data for Progress and the Center for Progressive Reform, found that a majority of likely voters favor more regulation of drinking water pollution (74 percent); consumer product safety (71percent); privacy data (70 percent); air pollution (68 percent) and workplace safety (67 percent). These results even held for two of today’s most heavily politicized areas of public policy: climate change (56 percent) and financial institutions (54 percent).

It is also remarkable that broad public support for regulations has held steady over the years, even despite years of campaigns by conservative policymakers to turn public opinion against regulations, culminating in the Trump administration, which made attacking regulations a signature issue. Polls by the Pew Research Center that show majority support for government action on climate change, privacy protection and racial equality, among other areas.

The CPR-DFP polling results even suggest that the anti-regulatory campaign has not been completely successful among self-identified Republican voters. Though their support for regulations in these policy areas is more muted than that of self-described Democratic voters and independents, it is still fairly robust in absolute terms. (The results in a Pew poll are a little more ambiguous about the extent of bipartisan support for regulations, but this appears to be due to how the questions were framed.)

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