Report: Vast Majority Of Americans Distrust Government

Americans have an overwhelming distrust of government. On the upside, for the most part, they are confident about the future, a bright spot among sad-looking numbers.

Those are the results of Pew Research Center's in-depth poll into how the American electorate views its government. Conducted between late August and early October of this year, its findings are disquieting.

Pew asked if respondents “Trust the federal government to do what is right just about always/most of the time…” The number came in at 19%, a shockingly low number, though not unheard of during our recent times of systemic Congressional gridlock.

This number, adding to the gravity of these results, is also among the lowest since this question was first asked in 1958.

There is also a general distrust in elected officials. 74% of respondents say elected officials put their own interests ahead of the country. This sentiment is backed by low voter turnout and a presidential campaign marred by anti-establishment sentiment.



Part of the unease also fell along party lines.

Another correlation between the Pew report and the way the election cycle is panning out is the sense of anger among Republican voters. 32% of Republicans are flat out angry with the federal government, three times more likely to be than Democrats.

Republican candidates are channeling this anger into fervent support for their own anti-Washington campaigns.

Donald Trump is significantly more likely to get favorable ratings from angry Republicans. The same is the case, however, for Rubio, Cruz and Carson. Bush, seen as the establishment candidate, has the worst numbers among angry voters, hence the pervasive criticism that he needs to get fired up.

On questions beyond government, the results are more encouraging.

45% of Americans have strong confidence in the future of the country and 39% have some, whereas only 15% have little or none. This sense of relative confidence in the future covers a significant majority of the electorate, both Republican and Democrat.

In order to win a general election in this climate, candidates will need to embody a better future. That's evident in campaign taglines: Marco Rubio pushes his “A New American Century” campaign slogan, while Jeb Bush focuses on a brighter tomorrow. Trump also appeals to optimism with his slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

At the same time, Trump appeals to fear and anger, as do a number of other top candidates. Their tactics may keep them going for a while in the Republican primary, but as Karl Rove said on Face the Nation this weekend, we are still a long way away from voting: “In Iowa, in 2008, over a third of the voters made up their minds in literally the closing days of the contest.”

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