Trust in Government Near All-Time Low: Survey

Trust in Government Near All-Time Low: Survey

Wikimedia / Andy Dunaway

The mounting chaos in Washington and the threat of yet another shutdown can’t be helping strengthen Americans’ faith in government, which according to data from the Pew Research Center now sits near historic lows.

Just 16% of respondents in a recent Pew survey said they trust the government to do what is right just about always or most of the time, the second lowest reading on that issue since pollsters started asking about it during the Eisenhower administration. The only lower result (15%) occurred in 2011 – another year marked by conflicts over debt levels and government funding.

Here are some highlights from the Pew report, which is based on two representative U.S. surveys. The first survey involved 8,480 adults and ran from July 10 to 16, 2023, while the second involved 5,115 adults and ran from June 5 to 11, 2023.

* A solid majority of respondents (65%) said they always or often feel exhausted when thinking about politics, while 55% said it makes them angry. Just 10% said thinking about U.S. politics makes them hopeful.

* A growing minority (28%) said they have unfavorable views of both the Democratic and Republican parties – an all-time high on a question Pew has been asking for 30 years.

* Most (63%) respondents said they are dissatisfied with the current crop of presidential candidates.

* Most (57%) said that disputes between Democrats and Republicans get too much attention, while 78% said that there is too little attention paid to “important issues facing the country.”

* Money in politics is seen as a major problem. Eighty-five percent of respondents said “special interest groups and lobbyists” have too much influence in U.S. politics, while 72% supported limits on how much money can be spent on political campaigns.

* The age of political leaders is a concern, as well. Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they favored an age limit for elected officials, while 76% said the same about Supreme Court justices.

* The two most common words used to describe U.S. politics were “divisive” and “corrupt.” Other popular terms were “messy,” chaos,” “bad” and “polarized.”

The Pew report notes that the survey results are consistent with long-term trends, although something does seem to have changed in recent years. “Americans have long been critical of politicians and skeptical of the federal government,” the report says. “But today, Americans’ views of politics and elected officials are unrelentingly negative, with little hope of improvement on the horizon.”