WASHINGTON — Americans’ overall trust in the government remains at record lows not paralleled since 1958. But a new survey finds that for the first time since the George W. Bush presidency, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they trust the government to do what is right for the country.
Twenty-eight percent of self-identifying Republicans say they trust the federal government “to do the right thing just about always or most of the time,” while just 15 percent of Democrats feel the same, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Democrats’ trust in the government has dropped to record lows not seen in nearly six decades of polling.
Although only 1 in 5 Americans say they trust the feds “to do what is right always or most of the time,” an increase emerged of nearly seven-in-ten (68 percent) saying they trust the government “to do what’s right only some of the time.”
More than one-quarter (28 percent) of those surveyed say they have little or no confidence in the country’s future, which is an increase from just 15 percent in the fall of 2015. But the partisan divide has been inverted since then: Republicans expressing “quite a lot of confidence” in the nation’s future has jumped 19 percentage points (40 percent to 59 percent), while Democrats’ confidence has dropped 22 points from 50 percent to just 28 percent.
Overall, 41 percent of Americans have “quite a lot” of confidence in the future for America.
Continuing the trend of the past decade, only 2-in-10 U.S. adults say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (4 percent) or “most of the time” (16 percent). Eleven percent of survey respondents responded that they “never trust the government.”
President Donald Trump’s rise to the White House and the 2016 election appears to not have had any measurable effect on the trust level of the U.S. federal government thus far. In October 2015, just shy of 1-in-5 Americans (19 percent) said they felt they could trust the government in Washington to do what’s right always (3 percent) or most of the time (16 percent) — numbers that have essentially not moved.
But the bar is very low: At no point in the last decade have more than 30 percent of Americans expressed trust in the nation’s lawmakers in Washington to do the right thing. This marks the longest period of low trust since the question was first asked by pollsters in 1958.
The Pew Research Center conducted this survey between April 5-11 of 2017 among 1,501 U.S. adults via landline and cell phones.