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Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Trust in Government


Public trust in the federal government, which has been low for decades, has increased modestly since 2023. As of April 2024, 22% of Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (2%) or “most of the time” (21%). Last year, 16% said they trusted the government just about always or most of the time, which was among the lowest measures in nearly seven decades of polling.
When the National Election Study began asking about trust in government in 1958, about three-quarters of Americans trusted the federal government to do the right thing almost always or most of the time.

Trust in government began eroding during the 1960s, amid the escalation of the Vietnam War, and the decline continued in the 1970s with the Watergate scandal and worsening economic struggles.

Confidence in government recovered in the mid-1980s before falling again in the mid-’90s. But as the economy grew in the late 1990s, so too did trust in government. Public trust reached a three-decade high shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks but declined quickly after. Since 2007, the shares saying they can trust the government always or most of the time have not been higher than 30%.

Today, 35% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they trust the federal government just about always or most of the time, compared with 11% of Republicans and Republican leaners.

Democrats report slightly more trust in the federal government today than a year ago. Republicans’ views have been relatively unchanged over this period.

Since the 1970s, trust in government has been consistently higher among members of the party that controls the White House than among the opposition party.