Trust in Government

What Do New Yorkers and Utahns Have in Common? Distrust of the Feds.

Mutual disdain for Washington, D.C. can bring us all together

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New York leans Democrat and Utah tilts Republican. New Yorkers are generally politically liberal, while Utahns favor conservative policies. On election maps, one is tinted red and the other blue. But two recent polls demonstrate that on at least one issue, the average residents of both states have a lot in common: Neither one places much trust in the federal government.

In a poll published today and conducted last month by Dan Jones & Associates, UtahPolicy.com finds that Utahns, on average, place the most trust in local government, followed by state government, with county government trailing and the federal government barely qualifying as an also-ran.

UtahPolicy.com / Dan Jones & Associates

Partisan preferences make a big difference here, with only 1 percent of Republicans and 3 percent of Independents placing their trust in the city on the distant Potomac River. By contrast, 27 percent of relatively rare state Democrats trust the feds, reserving their disdain for county government (2 percent) and state government (7 percent).

New Yorkers also find more to trust about local government than about federal institutions. Last month Siena College, located just outside Albany, teamed up with several local government groups thaty wanted to know if their constituents were into them. Mostly, they were.

While only 28 percent of voters across New York trust either the federal or state government to do what is right at least most of the time, 43 percent trust their local government most or all of the time.  Similarly, only 27 percent give the federal government a positive job performance of either good or excellent, and 30 percent give the state a positive job performance rating while 42 percent say their local government is doing either a good or excellent job…

Federal and state government didn't fare so well, though.

Siena College

Once again, partisan differences played a role, though not as starkly as in Utah. Democrats (44 percent), Republicans (44 percent), and Independents/Others (40 percent) all place more faith in local government than in the feds.

Distrust of the federal government is obviously stronger in Utah than in New York, and among Republicans than among Democrats. But the average traveling Utahn running into a random New Yorker could safely count on a friendly and fruitful conversation about Washington, D.C.'s failings.

This month, Americans overall named government as the most important problem facing the country today for the fourth month running. It held that status for the year of 2014, too.

In these polarizing days, it's heartwarming to know that distrust of Leviathan is something that can bring us together.