Gallup: ‘Trust and Confidence’ in Federal Gov’t Lower Than During Watergate

September 16, 2013 - 9:53 AM

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNSNews.com) - The “trust and confidence” the American people have in the federal government’s handling of both domestic and international problems is now at a lower level than it was even during the height of the Watergate scandal in 1974, according to Gallup polling data released last week.

Since 1972, Gallup has periodically asked Americans: “How much trust and confidence do you have in our federal government in Washington when it comes to handling [international problems/domestic problems]--a great deal, a fair amount, not very much, or none at all?”

In April 1974, four months before President Richard Nixon was forced to resign as result of the Watergate scandal, 24 percent said they had a great deal of trust and confidence in the federal government’s handling of international problems and 49 percent said they had a fair amount of confidence—for a combined 73 percent who said they had a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in the federal government in this area.

Also in April 1974, 9 percent said they had a great deal of trust and confidence in the federal government’s handling of domestic problems and 42 percent said they had a fair amount of trust and confidence—for a combined 51 percent who said they had a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence.

Those Watergate era numbers for public trust and confidence in the government were significantly better than what Gallup discovered when this Sept. 5-8 it asked Americans the same questions it did in April 1974.

This time, according to Gallup, a combined 49 percent said they had either a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the federal government in handling of international problems, and 42 percent said they had a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the federal government in handling domestic problems.

Both percentages, Gallup said, were new lows.

Back in September 2007, during the second term of President George W. Bush, the percentage of Americans having a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in the federal government’s handling of international problems hit 51 percent, and the percentage who had a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in the federal government in the handling domestic problems hit 47 percent. Gallup ran analysis of that 2007 survey with the headline: “Low Trust in Government Rivals Watergate Era Levels.”

Gallup’s analysis for its current “trust and confidence” survey, taken during President Barack Obama’s second term, makes no mention of Watergate, but carries the headline: “Fewer Americans Than Ever Trust Gov’t to Handle Problems.”