Gallup: Public's trust in federal government to handle problems reaches 40-year low

Lower than it was after Watergate, lower than it was at the nadir of Bush’s job approval collapse.

Obama promised he’d bring change, and he delivered:

Americans in the same survey also expressed historically low levels of confidence in the federal government’s ability to handle domestic problems, with 42% reporting a great deal or a fair amount of confidence. This is one point below the previous low of 43% in 2011.

Americans’ confidence in the federal government on domestic problems, as was true for international issues, peaked in the October post-9/11 poll, when 77% expressed confidence. Confidence then trended downward throughout the 2000s, and has sunk to several new lows since 2010. The exception is last year’s 51% reading, taken in the days after the Democratic National Convention, which helped fuel more positive feelings about the president and government more generally.

Follow the link and note the difference in how public trust has disintegrated on domestic problems versus foreign ones. On domestic matters, it’s been a slow, steady decline since the big 9/11 spike, interrupted briefly after each of Obama’s election wins. On foreign problems, public confidence remained relatively stable at around 60 percent since Obama was first elected in 2008 — until only recently, when the bottom dropped out. Gee, I wonder why:


Not even during the darkest days of the Iraq war was there less confidence in the feds’ ability to solve problems abroad. Amazing.

Needless to say, O’s leadership isn’t the only factor affecting the numbers. Congress’s job approval is up a few points lately but still well below its historic norm of 33 percent, which is surely contributing to the decline on domestic problem-solving. Despite the heavy opposition among the public to an attack on Syria, some of the dip on foreign problem-solving may be coming from people who are on the fence about a strike or in favor but who are exasperated that, once again, Obama and Congress can’t get together on a solution. Gridlock affects the metric too, not just doubts about “smart power” and Hopenchange. But let’s be real: After months of stories about the IRS targeting members of the out party, the DOJ spying on reporters, the NSA spying on everyone, and Obama’s serial humiliation over Syria, most of this is a reaction to either White House policy or White House incompetence. The guy who ran promising to restore trust in government has now brought trust in government so low that Ron Paul’s son seems poised, per the cycle of every presidential election being a reaction to the last, to take advantage in the primaries in 2016. That’s no small accomplishment by The One.

Oh, by the way, turns out Obama’s new Consumer Financial Protection Board is hoping to data-mine 80 percent of Americans’ credit-card purchases this year, to the tune of 42 billion transactions or so. Sleep tight, civil libertarians.