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Gallup: Fewer Americans Than Ever Trust Government to Handle Problems

Posted on 13-Sep-2013
Topics: Public Trust  

From Gallup:

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.

These new data come from Gallup's annual Governance survey, conducted Sept. 5-8, 2013, while Congress was debating the use of military force in Syria, but prior to President Barack Obama's nationally televised address on Syria, and Russia's proposal to avert U.S. military action.

Between 57% and 66% of Americans said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the U.S. government to handle international problems during Obama's first term. This represents a generally higher level of confidence than Americans expressed during the latter years of the Bush administration, when the U.S. was engaged in protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The historical high point on this measure (83%) came in October 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Americans also expressed high levels of confidence in the government on international matters in 1972 and 1974, when the question was first asked, even as the controversial Vietnam War was drawing to a close.

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.

Americans' confidence in the federal government on domestic problems, as was true for international issues, peaked in the October post-9/11 poll, when 77% expressed confidence. Confidence then trended downward throughout the 2000s, and has sunk to several new lows since 2010. The exception is last year's 51% reading, taken in the days after the Democratic National Convention, which helped fuel more positive feelings about the president and government more generally.



[1] "Fewer Americans Than Ever Trust Gov't to Handle Problems", Joy Wilke and Frank Newport, Gallup, 13-Sep-2013

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