A record-high 81% of US citizens are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed, adding to negativity that has been building over the past 10 years.
Majorities of Democrats (65%) and Republicans (92%) are dissatisfied with the nation's governance. This perhaps reflects the shared political power arrangement in Washington with Democrats controlling the White House and US Senate, and Republicans controlling the House of Representatives. Partisans on both sides can thus find fault with government without necessarily blaming their own party.
The findings are from Gallup's annual Governance survey, updated Sept. 8-11, 2011. The same poll shows record or near-record criticism of Congress, elected officials, government handling of domestic problems, the scope of government power, and government waste of tax dollars. Key Findings:
• 82% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.
• 69% say they have little or no confidence in the legislative branch of government, an all-time high and up from 63% in 2010.
• 57% have little or no confidence in the federal government to solve domestic problems, exceeding the previous high of 53% recorded in 2010 and well exceeding the 43% who have little or no confidence in the government to solve international problems.
• 53% have little or no confidence in the men and women who seek or hold elected office.
• Americans believe, on average, that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every tax dollar, similar to a year ago, but up significantly from 46 cents a decade ago and from an average 43 cents three decades ago.
• 49% of Americans believe the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. In 2003, less than a third (30%) believed this.
Confidence in Congress hit a new low this month, with 31% of Americans saying they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the legislative branch, lower than the percentage confident in the executive (47%) or judicial (63%) branch. Confidence in the legislative branch is slightly higher among Republicans than among Democrats, 41% vs. 32%.
Apart from a brief rally in public approval of Congress after the 9/11 attacks, Congress' job approval rating has followed a similar path, declining sharply since about 2000. The 15% of Americans approving Congress in the September poll is just two percentage points above the all-time low reached twice in the past year.
Americans' confidence in the people who run for or serve in office is also at a new low; however, the decline has been more recent, dropping from 66% in 2008 to 49% in 2009 and 45% today. For most of the history of this trend, Americans had much more positive views of those seeking or holding public office, but that changed in 2009, and the balance of opinion has since remained more negative than positive.