A watershed moment: Decline in faith in government after the debt-ceiling standoff

McInturff’s analysis is based on polling and focus groups from Public Opinion Strategies and on survey data from others, including The Washington Post. It is not a partisan document. Instead, it is a sobering look at the state of public opinion in the wake of what McInturff describes as one of those rare events — like the Iranian hostage crisis, the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina or the collapse of Lehman Brothers — that has the potential to dramatically change the political landscape.

“We are entering a new phase of the American political dialogue that has been irrevocably shifted in a way that will prove difficult to predict,” according to McInturff. “Historically, though, this type of deep voter anger, unease and economic pessimism leads to unstable and unpredictable political outcomes.”…

Most troubling for those in power is the fact that this collapse in confidence comes not at the beginning of a deep recession but years into what has proved to be a stubbornly slow recovery. McInturff noted that there are only four previous occasions, dating to 1952, when the consumer sentiment index has fallen below 65 percent: 1974, 1979, 1990 and 2008.

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