September 14 2013

American Confidence in the Federal Government Hits All-time Lows

Vicki E. Alger

In news that should shock no one, Gallup announced that “fewer Americans than ever trust government to handle problems.” It doesn’t matter whether those problems are domestic or international, as Gallup reports:

Americans' trust and confidence in the federal government's ability to handle international problems has reached an all-time low, with 49% saying they have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence, two percentage points below the previous low of 51% recorded in 2007.

Those results are not surprising given the president’s and Congress’ handling of Syria.

What is surprising is that at a time when significant numbers of Americans are on food stamps and other public assistance, the federal government is taking over health care, and the Democrats recently announced plans for universalizing government-run day care and preschool for all three- and four-year-olds, Americans' belief in the fed’s ability to handle domestic problems is at record lows, as Gallup continues:

Americans in the same survey also expressed historically low levels of confidence in the federal government's ability to handle domestic problems, with 42% reporting a great deal or a fair amount of confidence. This is one point below the previous low of 43% in 2011.

Understandably, partisan confidence levels closely track who’s in office. So it’s worth noting that comparing results from 2009 and 2013 when Obama held office, confidence fell across party lines when it comes to international affairs, dropping 7 points to 71 percent among Democrats. Both Independents and Republicans dropped as well, from slight majority approval ratings to distinct minority ratings.

The confidence dip domestically is striking. Comparing approval ratings for the federal government from 2009 and 2013 Gallup found:

  • Democrats, 74% down to 58%
  • Independents, 41% down to 37%
  • Republicans, 35% down to 29%

Perhaps these results signal a return to looking beyond Washington, D.C., for lasting solutions to problems at home and demanding thoughtful deliberations from our elected official about handling problems abroad that actually pose a threat to us.

 

 

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