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  • Ryan Wittler

Government: Not Very Hot Right Now


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In a sign that life indeed is sometimes more poetic than we think, three polls came out on the same day last week (September 30) that, taken together, show Americans are feeling down on the government right now.


Rough day:


First, Gallup released its Governance Poll, finding just 39% of Americans trust the federal government’s handling of domestic issues. While that’s down just 2 percentage points from last year, it’s 14 percentage points lower than the average trust measured from 1997 to 2021 (though higher than the 35% measured in 2019). Gallup also found trust in how the federal government handles international issues has fallen, hitting a record-low of 39% (down from 48% last year).


Later that day, the University of Virginia Center for Politics and Project Home Fire published their own poll, finding large majorities of both Biden voters (80%) and Trump voters (84%) view politicians from the opposing party “as presenting a clear and present danger to American democracy.”


The poll also showed a solid amount of voters are comfortable with destroying political norms to get their way, finding 46% of Biden voters and 44% of Trump voters think the country would be better off if the president could take “needed action” without being “constrained by Congress or the courts” (i.e., the literal hallmarks of our federal system).


Then, Ipsos published the cherry on top: its Presidential Approval Tracker poll, finding President Biden’s approval has steadily fallen in the last several weeks (now sitting at 46% approve and 50% disapprove), largely due to the Afghanistan withdrawal.


The finding basically fell along partisan lines, as Biden still enjoys broad support among Democrats (80% approval), some support among Independents (35%), and little among Republicans (15%).


What was interestingly quasi-bipartisan in the Ipsos poll, however, was how many Americans think the country is currently “on the wrong track.” Overall, 61% of U.S. adults think that, while just 25% think we’re “heading in the right direction.”


Somewhat surprisingly, Democrats are split on the issue, with 41% thinking the country is off the rails and 41% believing we’re heading the right way. Unsurprisingly, 84% of Republicans think things are on the wrong track, as do 67% of Independents.


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