GALLUP: Trust in Federal Government, On Nearly All Issues, Hits New Low — Even Less Than in Watergate Era

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By: E&P Staff

A new Gallup poll reveals that, as the organization puts it, Americans now “express less trust in the federal government than at any point in the past decade, and trust in many federal government institutions is now lower than it was during the Watergate era, generally recognized as the low point in American history for trust in government.”

Among the findings: Barely half trust the government to handle international problems, the lowest number ever. And less than half express faith in the government handling domestic issues, the lowest findings since 1976.

Faith in the executive branch has fallen to 43% — only 3% higher than it was just before President Nixon’s resignation in 1974. At the same time, trust in Congress, at 50%, is its lowest ever.

Gallup has asked about trust in government since 1972. It conducted this year’s poll Sept. 14-16 and found the following:

— Barely half of Americans, 51%, say they have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the federal government to handle international problems.

— Less than half of Americans, 47%, now have at least a fair amount of trust in the federal government to handle domestic problems.

Gallup adds: “The candidates running for president in 2008 will be trying to win over a skeptical public. Just 55% of Americans express trust in the ‘men and women in political life in this country who either hold or are running for public office.’ That matches the low Gallup found in 2001.”

Americans are even losing faith — in themselves. Currently, 70% of Americans trust the public’s ability to perform its role in a democratic government, which is down from 78% two years ago when it was last asked, and significantly lower than any other reading Gallup has taken.

“The poll indicates that the lack of trust seems to be directed primarily at the federal government,” Gallup concludes. “There has been no observable decline of public trust in state and local governments. Sixty-seven percent of Americans now express trust in their state government, matching the levels of 2004 and 2005. Sixty-nine percent also trust their local government, similar to what Gallup has found since 2001.”

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