Monday, April 19, 2010

Surprise, Nearly 80% of Americans are the "Fringe" Who Distrust Government

Via Memeorandum

From an overview of the latest study by Pew Research comes this news headline, nearly 80% do not trust government. This is a historic 50 year low:
click to enlarge

The most recent high point when Americans expressed trust in government came predictably after 9/11.  The current level of distrust toward government is comparable to the levels during the early years of the Clinton administration.  This does not bode well for those incumbents seeking re-election this year as this graph will show:
During the years when trust is at a higher level, fewer seats changed hands during elections.  The largest turnover in seats came at a low point in trust in 1994.  We also see a major shift to Democrats during the Ford presidency when trust in government had then reached a historic low.   This seems unsurprising when you consider the country had then just experienced the trauma of the Watergate years.  You can click on the interactive charts provided in this poll to view how measures of trust/distrust bear on consumer confidence, levels of unemployment etc.

In all, the survey results, totaling a massive 140 pages, reveal deep levels of distrust for both government and non-governmental institutions such as banks, large corporations, the media and unions.  The only institutions to gain in trust were the CIA and the IRS, wow.  Taken together, results of the survey reveal a "perfect storm" of factors explaining historic low levels of trust in government:
By almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days. A new Pew Research Center survey finds a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of government — a dismal economy, an unhappy public, bitter partisan-based backlash, and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials.

Rather than an activist government to deal with the nation’s top problems, the public now wants government reformed and growing numbers want its power curtailed. With the exception of greater regulation of major financial institutions, there is less of an appetite for government solutions to the nation’s problems — including more government control over the economy — than there was when Barack Obama first took office. …

These are the principal findings from a series of surveys that provide a detailed picture of the public’s opinions about government. The main survey, conducted March 11-21 among 2,505 adults, was informed by surveys in 1997 and 1998 that explored many of the same questions and issues. While a majority also distrusted the federal government in those surveys, criticism of government had declined from earlier in the decade. And the public’s desire for government services and activism was holding steady.

This is not the case today. Just 22% say they can trust the government in Washington almost always or most of the time, among the lowest measures in half a century. About the same percentage (19%) says they are “basically content” with the federal government, which is largely unchanged from 2006 and 2007, but lower than a decade ago.

Opinions about elected officials are particularly poor. In a follow-up survey in early April, just 25% expressed a favorable opinion of Congress, which was virtually unchanged from March (26%), prior to passage of the health care reform bill. This is the lowest favorable rating for Congress in a quarter century of Pew Research Center surveys. Over the last year, favorable opinions of Congress have declined by half — from 50% to 25%.
Far from taking this as words of caution however, bloggers on the left see Obama trying to appeal to the 80% who oppose big government as a big waste of his time, seriously:
It’s also pretty self-evident from these results that a Democratic President trying to appeal to Republican (or Teabagger) voters is completely wasting his time. So Barack Obama can escalate in Afghanistan and cut taxes and he’s still considered a communist pacifist by the right.

Finally, look at the steady decline of trust in government among Independents. That’s the result of 30+ years of “government is the problem” Reaganism. The Democrats and Barack Obama must make an affirmative case for government or this trend will continue.

The party of “government sucks — vote for us” is still winning the messaging war.
I am speechless.   That reaction is lefty blogger for "you would think they would be thanking us."


  1. Decline of trust in the government among independents is the result of "30+ years of 'government is the problem' Reaganism"?

    FDL must have fallen into a wormhole that whisked her out of this galaxy for the last couple of decades.

    But she is correct in observing that Obama would be wasting his time trying to convince most independents that he is other than what he is. He's been caught in so many lies that very few of us would be willing to take any action of his at face value.

  2. Yep, blame 30 years of Reaganism. At least it is a switch from blaming Bush. I am shocked they think he has been trying to convince us of anything other than Democratic policies are made of fail.

  3. Wow! That's really low. Kinda scary when you think about it.


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