I’d love to throw stones at O here but a big bunch of cronies and lobbyists from our party just got Thad Cochran reelected for his thousandth term in the Senate, with plenty of establishment applause for their hard work. You trust them to run a tight, clean ship once they’re back in the White House, don’t you?
Interesting trend, but note that more than half of the 20-point rise here had already been banked by the time Bush left office.
Perceptions of widespread corruption actually dipped a bit after Obama was first sworn in, in the first flush of optimism about Hopenchange. Five years later, the public’s more cynical than ever thanks to the IRS, the VA, the NSA, and the rest of the alphabet soup of Obama scandals. Makes me wonder, though: How much of this is a direct reaction to O, how much of it is a function of broader political alienation over the last 10 years, and how much of it is a simple return to normal? It’d be useful to have data from 2000 to 2005 in order to see how sharp the “9/11 effect” was. I guarantee you that cynicism about government dropped sharply after the attack and then began to rise gradually afterward. Maybe the 2006 data still shows some artificial suppression as a lingering aftershock from 9/11. (Or maybe not. 2006 was also the nadir of the Iraq war, when virtually all post-9/11 nonpartisanship had been erased.) Needless to say, though, some of this is obviously a backlash to Obama. Another interesting data point from Gallup:
Satisfaction with one’s freedom dropped 12 points in the U.S. last year alone. As it turns out, notes Gallup, perceptions of freedom tend to correlate inversely with perceptions of widespread government corruption, i.e. the more people think the government is shady, the fewer feel satisfied with their freedom. Which is the cause and which the effect, though? Has the drumbeat of Obama scandals over the past year made people feel less free, or do they feel less free due to other reasons — a chronically weak economy, government expansions like ObamaCare — and that in turn makes them more suspicious of government corruption?
Here’s a depressing clue from Pew: Most people aren’t paying “very close” attention to Scandalmania.
Not even the VA scandal cracks 25 percent among Democrats, and there are actually fewer Dems “very closely” following the mysterious case of Lois Lerner’s missing IRS e-mails than there are following the World Cup. Even among Republicans, high interest in the VA and IRS scandals tops out at 33 percent. That doesn’t mean, of course, that the steady rise in perceptions of government corruption since 2006 isn’t being driven by specific scandals; Scandalmania last year is an obvious explanation for why the corruption numbers spiked. But the Pew numbers are a useful reminder that Americans, during ordinary times, spend their days largely in a news coma — and yet we had already reached 75 percent in the Gallup corruption poll during O’s first term, which didn’t have any big-ticket scandals that caught mainstream media attention. I think maybe the corruption numbers are, in large part, a reaction to conservative upset at Obama’s expansion of government: It can’t be a coincidence that the big spike in 2010 happened the same year that ObamaCare was passed. Righties knew that bigger government necessarily means more widespread corruption. That’s what was driving the corruption numbers, not any scandal — until last year, that is.
Exit question via Becket Adams: It’s probably not good that people have more faith in the military and the police now than they do in any of the three branches of government, huh?