Americans Don’t Trust Government to Do What Is Right, Poll Finds


Only one in five Americans say they trust the government to do what is right most of the time, according to a new poll.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed say societal change is best achieved through volunteering and working with charity organizations, rather than working in government, according to the poll by USA Today and the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Young people under the age of 30 were significantly less likely than their parents to rate political participation as something they value, the poll found.

Increasingly negative views toward government make it more difficult to recruit the ablest young people, USA Today warned, citing analysts. “As a result, government and politics are likely to work even less well -- presumably prompting perceptions to fall further,” the paper said.

Forty-two percent of those surveyed view the federal government as an advocate for themselves and their families, while 38 percent view it as a an adversary, the poll found. These views fell largely along partisan lines, with those who identify themselves as Democrats more likely than Republicans or Independents to see the government as an advocate.

Nearly 60 percent surveyed favored requiring one year of service from every American between the ages of 18 and 25 through the military, the Peace Corps or a community service organization such as Habitat for Humanity. Young people under the age of 30 were the only group to oppose this idea by a narrow margin of 50 percent to 48 percent. More than two-thirds of respondents over 50 favored the idea.

Fourteen percent of respondents said they had seriously considered running for public office. If the poll is representative, that would mean some 40 million people have, USA Today said, citing analysts.

Republican pollster Whit Ayres and Democratic pollster Mark Mellman conducted the survey in late June, reaching out to 1,071 respondents by landline and cellphone. The margin of error is +/- 5 percentage points, the paper said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.