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Do We Want More or Less Regulation of Business? It All Depends on What Is Being Regulated Large majorities favor more strict regulation of the safety of food, pharmaceuticals, consumer products and the workplace - and also executive pay and bonuses

NEW YORK, June 10 /PRNewswire/ -- It is common to hear corporate executives and business leaders complain about excessive regulation, but what does the public think?  A new Harris Poll finds that among those who favor change, many more people support stricter rather than less strict regulation of business.  However, this overall view is based on different attitudes to regulation, depending on who or what is being regulated.  

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Overall, a 40% plurality of the public favors more strict regulation and only 19% would prefer less strict regulation (with 27% wanting neither more nor less strict regulation and 14% saying they are not at all sure).

However, a 64% to 11% majority favor more strict regulation of big business while a 45% to 14% plurality favors less strict regulation of small business.  The 70% or more of adults who favor stricter regulation of food safety, pharmaceutical safety and executive pay and bonuses compares with only 40% who favor more price regulation and 41% who want more regulation of profits.

These are some of the findings of a Harris Poll® survey of 2,503 U.S. adults surveyed online between May 10 and 17, 2010 by Harris Interactive.  

The strongest support for stricter regulation relates to food safety (73%), executive pay and bonuses (70%), the safety of pharmaceuticals (70%), banks and financial services (69%), air and water pollution (68%), consumer product safety (67%), and environmental safety (66%).  Majorities also support more strict regulation of advertising claims (65%), big business (64%), and health and safety in the workplace (54%).

Across the board, support for regulation is much stronger among Democrats than Republicans, with Independents in the middle.  However, even majorities of Republicans favor more strict regulation of food safety (64%), executive compensation (57%), pharmaceutical safety (61%), banks and financial services (56%), air and water pollution (52%), consumer product safety (56%), and advertising claims (56%).  

Attitudes of Tea Party and members

This Harris Poll also looked at attitudes toward the regulation of business among those who describe themselves as "Tea Party supporters" (38% of adults) and, among supporters, those who describe themselves as "Tea Party members" (10% of all adults).  The attitudes of Tea Party supporters are very similar to those of Republicans (not very surprising because many of them are the same people).

Self-styled Tea Party "members" are more strongly opposed to business regulation.  A 48% to 21% plurality (but not a majority) favors less strict regulation in general.  However, majorities even of Tea Party "members" favor stricter regulation of food safety (61%), executive pay and bonuses (52%), pharmaceutical safety (59%), consumer product safety (54%), and advertising claims (61%).  

So what?

Politicians, business leaders and trade associations often attack government regulation.  They may be surprised to learn from this Harris Poll the regulation of business enjoys much public support.  Not only does a 2-to-1 plurality of all adults favor more strict regulation; majorities, or substantial pluralities, favor stricter regulation of twelve of the thirteen items listed.  The one exception, and it is an important one politically, is that a 3-to-1 plurality (45% to 14%) favors less strict regulation of small business.  

TABLE 1

GENERAL BUSINESS REGULATION

"Now turning to a different topic, in general, do you think that there should be more strict or less strict regulation of business?"

Base:  All adults


Total

Political Party

Tea Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Supporter*

Member*

%

%

%

%

%

%

Less strict

19

37

5

21

38

48

More strict

40

23

58

35

24

21

Neither more nor less strict

27

29

23

29

31

25

Not at all sure

14

11

13

15

7

6

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding.

*38% of public describe themselves as "Tea Party supporters" while 10% say they are "Tea Party members."



TABLE 2

REGULATION BY INDUSTRY

"Please say for each of the following if you think there should be more strict or less strict regulation:"

Base:  All adults


Less strict

More strict

Neither more nor less strict

Not at all sure

%

%

%

%

Small business

45

14

33

8

Prices

19

40

33

8

Profits

17

41

32

10

Big business

11

64

19

6

Executive pay and bonuses

10

70

14

6

Banks and financial services

9

69

17

6

Environmental safety

7

66

22

5

Air and water pollution

6

68

21

5

Advertising claims

6

65

23

7

Health and safety in the workplace

6

54

36

5

Consumer product safety

4

67

24

5

The safety of pharmaceuticals

3

70

22

5

Food safety

2

73

20

4

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding



TABLE 3

REGULATION BY INDUSTRY – LESS STRICT

"Please say for each of the following if you think there should be more strict or less strict regulation:"

Percent of those who say "less strict"

Base:  All adults


Total

Political Party

Tea Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Supporter

Member

%

%

%

%

%

%

Small business

45

56

36

50

60

60

Prices

19

28

11

23

29

32

Profits

17

30

7

19

32

37

Big business

11

23

4

10

22

27

Executive pay and bonuses

10

18

3

10

18

20

Banks and financial services

9

16

4

9

16

24

Environmental safety

7

17

1

7

16

21

Air and water pollution

6

14

1

7

14

19

Advertising claims

6

10

4

5

8

13

Health and safety in the workplace

6

10

3

5

9

11

Consumer product safety

4

9

1

4

9

13

The safety of pharmaceuticals

3

5

2

4

6

8

Food safety

2

4

1

3

5

11

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding



TABLE 4

REGULATION BY INDUSTRY – MORE STRICT

"Please say for each of the following if you think there should be more strict or less strict regulation:"

Percent of those who say "more strict"

Base:  All adults


Total

Political Party

Tea Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Supporter

Member

%

%

%

%

%

%

Food safety

73

64

82

71

65

61

Executive pay and bonuses

70

57

83

69

58

52

The safety of pharmaceuticals

70

61

80

66

62

59

Banks and financial services

69

56

82

67

57

47

Air and water pollution

68

52

84

64

51

46

Consumer product safety

67

56

80

63

58

54

Environmental safety

66

47

85

60

48

44

Advertising claims

65

56

71

67

60

61

Big business

64

47

82

59

47

40

Health and safety in the workplace

54

46

66

48

44

40

Profits

41

28

53

37

30

26

Prices

40

31

48

37

32

34

Small business

14

9

20

9

10

13

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding



Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 10 and 17, 2010 among 2,503 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, these data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #76, June 10, 2010

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive

J38300

Q805, 810

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:

Corporate Communications

Harris Interactive

212-539-9600

press@harrisinteractive.net



SOURCE Harris Interactive



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