Polls

Less Than 3 in 10 Americans Trust Government

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Broad Distrust of Government
Majority Now View Government as Threat to Personal Rights

A recent Pew Research poll has found that only 26 percent of Americans trust government to make the right decisions, 73 percent say they have little confidence in government. A majority (53 percent) also say government is a threat to Americans' rights and freedoms. In fact this is the highest number Pew has found since first asking the question in 1995.

These concerns are shared by majorities across racial/ethnic groups, age, education, gender, and political identity. However, some groups are more likely than others to trust government including millennials (35 percent), Democrats (38 percent), African-Americans (38 percent), and Latinos (44 percent).

Overall ratings of the federal government have declined since President Obama first took office, with the largest shift coming from Democrats. In 2009, 61 percent of Democrats gave the federal government favorable ratings, but that number has shrunk to 51 percent, Independents have declined from 35 percent favorable to 27 percent. Republican favorability has hovered around a quarter.

Interestingly, the closer government is to home, the higher its favorability rating.  Sixty-one percent have a favorable view toward their local government, 52 percent like their state government, compared to 33 percent who have a positive opinion of the federal government. In line with these findings, 69 percent say the federal government should only do what cannot be run at the local level.

Read Pew's findings here and here.

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  1. The younger and less educated* you are, the more likely you are to trust the government.

    *Unless you have a graduate degree, which I attribute to more years marinating in academia and a higher likelihood of actually working for the government, which loves it some credentials.

    1. This. Government loves to sop up the Master’s and Ph.D leftovers who can’t get a job anywhere else. Government’s compensation is above market also, so that helps satisfy the egos of those who think a Ph.D is automatically worth six figures.

  2. This is why Rand Paul’s filibuster didn’t mean as much as people are making it out to.

  3. In 2009, 61 percent of Democrats gave the federal government favorable ratings, but that number has shrunk to 51 percent

    Progressives think Obama is a Republican for many reasons. They thought they were voting for Michael Moore and got Jack Kemp instead.

    1. Obama voters believe him to be what they wish him to be. The ones that bought the moderate new tone shit from ’08 think he’s a moderate. The liberals think he’s a liberal. The proggies are delusional, not to mention unprincipled since they excuse and justify, even support, things they used to howl about when the last guy was doing them.

      1. So they are as self delusional as the Obama haters/birthers/socialists/Birchers?

        1. flip sides of the same coin, much like Obama and Palin except that she has been right on a few things.

  4. there is a certain dissonace to this poll – all those folks who claim to distrust govt, many of whom are the same people who cling most tightly to Team. Maybe the sum total of the poll is people distrust the other Team but have faith that theirs will do the right thing.

    1. Absolutely. They all want to give more power and more money to an entity they don’t trust. We don;t trust you but we want you to be 100% in charge of our heathcare, retirement, and security.

      1. It’s time based. They just can’t see that their party will eventually lose an election and have to hand all that power over to the hated rivals.

  5. Somewhere a S o c k with someones hand up his hole quietly weeps at this news.

    1. Why would it weep? Any study that is commissioned by anyone other than government is tainted by profit motive and cannot be trusted. This is obviously propaganda put forth by libertarian tyrants who would impose liberty on the masses.

      1. “This is obviously propaganda put forth by libertarian tyrants who would impose liberty on the masses.”

        I sometimes overlook the obvious.

  6. However, some groups are more likely than others to trust government including millennials (35 percent), Democrats (38 percent), African-Americans (38 percent), and Latinos (44 percent).

    That adds up to 155 percent. I smell a rat.

    1. Not really. Those are all minority groups for one. Take the African Americans for instance: they make up ~15% of the overall population, so 38% of 15% = 5.7% of the full population. Plus there’s probably some severe overlap in those groups. An African-American millennial who is also a registerad Democrat would count towards all three for example.

      It occurs to me you may have been making some kind of snarky sarcastic joke that I didn’t get. In which case, apologies for the semi-condescending exlanation of basic math.

      1. It’s generally a safe bet not to take what FoE says seriously.

      2. “It occurs to me you may have been making some kind of snarky sarcastic joke ”

        say no more..

  7. These Reason/Rupe poll results are incredibly divergent from what people actually vote for. Not sure what that means.

    1. Stated preference v. revealed preference. People say one thing, and do another; human nature.

      1. I’m always honest with surveys. For example, last night I got a call on a phone that hasn’t been used for years. It’s an old land-line that came with the house. No one who knows me would call that phone.

        *The phone rings; I pick up the receiver*
        Me: WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?
        Caller: We’re doing a survey on immunization rates.
        Me: No we’re not.
        *Click*

        Every word rang true.

    2. From your perspective you thought (mistakenly) that Romney was running to dismantle government. Most knew he was not.

      1. Uh Shreek….you have a little…..umm Santorum on you.

        Just trying to help out.

    3. This is a Pew Research poll. Not Reason/Rupe.

    4. Considering voter turnout in 2012 was 57.5%, and considering the poll isnt just registered voters, which lowers that number some more, maybe we can assume the 45 or 50% or so that didnt vote are all in the distrust category.

      That changes the overall numbers to about 26 to 28. Which is pretty close to even. Considering most voters are going to vote for “someone who can win”, even if they distrust them, there ya go.

      1. If I distrust something, and have an opportunity to change it, I’m going to take that opportunity, not sit on the sidelines and accept whatever happens as non-voters do.

        1. I voted for Johnson because I agree with you.

          However, realistically, is there any difference between what I did and what a non-voter did?

          Answer: no.

    5. This is reporting a Pew Research Center poll not a Reason-Rupe poll.

  8. some groups are more likely than others to trust government including millennials (35 percent), Democrats (38 percent), African-Americans (38 percent), and Latinos (44 percent).

    I find interesting that African Americans would be more likely than the overall population to trust government given the history of slavery and government santioned oppression during the Jim Crow era. Same can be said for the millennials considering how hard they’re about to be fucked in coming years. Someone’s got to pay and it’s sure as hell not going to be the boomers who ran up the tab. Kind of sad that so many of them don’t seem to realize they’re in for a hot beef injection in the near future.

    I guess it is a little encouraging that both groups are still less than 50%. I would have expected their government approval rating to be higher.

    1. You don’t understand. It was government that ended slavery and Jim Crow. Forget that those things required government to enforce them in the first place. That is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that government ended oppression. You gotta love government for that.

      1. Well that’s what I get for answering a phone call before responding.

      2. Yeah. It’s more accurate to say that government stopped enforcing slavery and Jim Crow than to say government ended those things. Giving government credit for ending Jim Crow is like giving government credit for ending alcohol prohibition or for ending the war in Iraq.

      3. I believe this was Tony’s legitimate argument the other day.

        1. Nope. It was sarcasmic’s position.

    2. My guess is they take the view that government ended slavery and Jim Crow, without considering that government empowered those things in the first place.

      1. Slavery was legal under the stars and stripes for many many more years than it was legal under the stars and bars.

        1. Only using nominal years, not percentage of flag lifespan.

          1. Yes, many, many more years, that is what I said.

            And as of 1865 it was 100% for both.

            Even by percentage basis, it took post-civil-war years for the stars and stripes to take the lead.

            1. It took 6 months after the end of the war for the 13th amendment to be adopted.

  9. I trust the government becasue without it, people like Tony wouldn’t have any way to inflict their will on the rest of us.

  10. Forget that those things required government to enforce them in the first place. That is irrelevant.

    In order for your One True Love to *stop* blacking your eyes and throwing you down the stairs….

    Error of ways, revealed.

    “I only beat you because I care, baby.”

  11. A majority … say government is a threat to Americans’ rights and freedoms.

    What percentage of *that* majority thinks the threat is a good thing?

    1. Also, there may not be an overlap in which “rights and freedoms” they are thinking about. Liberals might be thinking of healthcare and living wages, while republicans are thinking of taxes and guns. They all say government is a threat, but the two sides don’t agree on what it is a threat to.

      1. Yep. Also, since the government grants rights and times change, the government can take away rights without being a “threat”.

  12. I don’t think we can gleam much from the poll because the questions are problematic:

    1) “Trust gov’t in Washington to do right thing”
    – doing the “right thing” can mean anything

    2) “Federal government threatens your personal rights and freedoms?”
    – among dems/libs/progs I expect this to include a whole slew of positive rights

    3) having a better opinion of local govs might just mean having lots more regulation they favor

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    1. I’d like to meet your sister in law.

      1. Roommate’s sister in law, I mean.

  14. “Interestingly, the closer government is to home, the higher its favorability rating.”

    That’s because the more remote the government bureaucrats are from the people paying their salary, the less accountable they feel, and so the less motivation they have to give good service. Minimizing that distance means local rather than central control, just as the Founding Fathers specified in the Constitution…

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