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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Views of Federal, State, and Local Governments

Recent polls have shown that public opinion favors the states in at least some conflicts with the federal governmentThe Pew Research Center reports:
Even as public views of the federal government in Washington have fallen to another new low, the public continues to see their state and local governments in a favorable light. Overall, 63% say they have a favorable opinion of their local government, virtually unchanged over recent years. And 57% express a favorable view of their state government – a five-point uptick from last year. By contrast, just 28% rate the federal government in Washington favorably. That is down five points from a year ago and the lowest percentage ever in a Pew Research Center survey.

The percentage of Democrats expressing a favorable opinion of the federal government has declined 10 points in the past year, from 51% to 41%. For the first time since Barack Obama became president, more Democrats say they have an unfavorable view of the federal government in Washington than a favorable view (51% unfavorable vs. 41% favorable). Favorable opinions of the federal government among Republicans, already quite low in 2012 (20% favorable), have fallen even further, to 13% currently.

The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted March 13-17 among 1,501 adults, finds positive ratings across party lines for state and local governments overall. But the partisan makeup of the state government matters: Republicans give more positive ratings to GOP-led state governments, while Democrats rate Democratic-led state governments more highly.

Notably, politically divided state governments get positive ratings from members of both parties. In the 13 states with divided governments – those in which the governor and a majority of state legislators are from different parties – majorities of both Republicans and Democrats express favorable opinions of their state governments.

A sizable majority of Americans (69%) say that their state is currently facing budget problems. However, assessments of state budgets were even more negative two years ago; in February 2011, 81% said their state was encountering budget problems. And while just 30% say that economic conditions in their state are excellent or good, that is nearly double the percentage expressing a positive view of the national economy (16% excellent or good).