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Are you curious about how much faith Americans really have in their government? It’s a rollercoaster of trust and distrust, with twists and turns that reflect the nation’s tumultuous history. From the optimistic highs of the late 1950s to the wary lows of recent years, the journey of public trust in the U.S. government is a fascinating tale of changing times and shifting sentiments. Join us as we explore 13 intriguing facts that reveal the depth and complexity of America’s relationship with Uncle Sam.
Age-Related Trust Variations
Despite overall low trust in the federal government, there’s an interesting age-related pattern among Democrats. Older Democrats tend to be more trusting of the government compared to their younger counterparts.
For instance, 57% of Democrats aged 65 and older express distrust in the government to do what is right “only some of the time or never,” while this sentiment jumps to about 70% among Democrats aged 35-64, and 78% among those aged 18-34. In contrast, Republican trust levels show no substantial differences across age groups, with about nine-in-ten Republicans of all ages distrusting the government
Public trust in the federal government has plummeted to near record lows, with fewer than two-in-ten Americans expressing trust.
A Steep Decline
Trust in the government is among the lowest it has been in almost seven decades of polling.
A Brief Uptick
There was a modest increase in trust in 2020 and 2021, but this was short-lived.
The 1958 Benchmark
When polling began in 1958, about three-quarters of Americans trusted the federal government.
Vietnam and Watergate Impact
Trust began to erode during the Vietnam War and continued to decline through the Watergate scandal and economic struggles of the 1970s.
Recovery and Decline
Trust in government saw a recovery in the mid-1980s, only to fall again in the mid-1990s.
The Late 1990s Surge
A growing economy in the late 1990s led to increased confidence in the government.
Trust reached a three-decade high after the 9/11 terrorist attacks but fell sharply thereafter.
Party Lines and Trust
Since the 1970s, members of the party in control of the White House have consistently shown higher trust in the government.
Republicans tend to show much lower levels of trust during Democratic presidencies.
Democrats’ attitudes towards government trust tend to be more consistent, regardless of which party controls the presidency.
Racial Perspectives on Trust
Asian, Hispanic, and Black adults show higher levels of trust in the federal government than White adults.
The Partisan Divide Today
Currently, 25% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents trust the government, compared with 8% of Republicans and Republican leaners.