February 11th, 2010
08:50 AM ET
5 years ago

Poll: Unhappiness with government highest in 14 years

Two-thirds of Americans are dissatisfied or angry about how the federal government works, the highest level in 14 years, according to a new national poll.
Two-thirds of Americans are dissatisfied or angry about how the federal government works, the highest level in 14 years, according to a new national poll.

Washington (CNN) – Two-thirds of Americans are dissatisfied or angry about how the federal government works, the highest level in 14 years, according to a new national poll.

But the ABC News/Washington Post survey, released Thursday morning, suggests a partisan divide, with 8 out of ten conservative Republicans viewing how the federal government works in a negative way, but nearly 6 out of ten liberal Democrats saying they were enthusiastic or satisfied.

The 67 percent dissatisfaction level is the highest in ABC News/Washington post polling since it peaked at 70 percent in March 1996, in the months after the a federal government shutdown led by Republicans.

So which political party gets blamed for this dissatisfaction? A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll indicated that nearly half the public said they were angry at both political parties, with 11 percent angry only at the Republicans and 9 percent angry only at the Democrats.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted February 4-8, with 1,004 adults questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

– Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Washington
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Kate

    The American people should blame themselves because they are dissatisfied with government. They stood by and let the previous administration use blank checks for a war most Americans were against, watched the previous administration do nothing about jobs leaving the United States, by watching GW put policies in that he didn't fund and let the previous administration spend, spend, spend, and give tax cuts to the wealthiest. Now most republicans want to blame this administration. I think they should just accept the blame and get on with working with a President that cares enough about the country to get us out of the mess we are in. He wants to work with republicans but they want him to fail. When I vote I vote for whom I think can lead us in the right direction, and right now I couldn't vote for one republican. They are a party of NO.

    February 11, 2010 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  2. John

    Yes, I am unhappy about government but not all of it. I am particularly frustrated and disgusted with the GOP and their obstructionism to all that Obama has tried to pass. There are some good ideas on the table but none from the GOP. All they do is try to keep the previous administrations ideas and thwart any attempt to change them. They don't have a clue on how to govern.
    As for the Democrats, there is so much diversity in their ideas that they have a hard time coming together. They need more unity and move a bit more to the center. Compromise is needed to get things going.

    Moderates like me like Obama, like some of the programs put forth but do not like some of the leadership in Congress. Pull together or stand aside and give the GOP another chance to screw things up.

    February 11, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "Two-thirds of Americans are dissatisfied or angry about how the federal government works,"

    Rasmussen puts the number at 75% angry, and they're generally more accurate.

    "...8 out of ten conservative Republicans viewing how the federal government works in a negative way...:

    Rasmussen has it at nine out of ten.

    "...6 out of ten liberal Democrats saying they were enthusiastic or satisfied." (My emphasis added.)

    Sorry, but this is a subtly misleading statement. Note the word "liberal." It would be easy to miss the implications of that word, that the statistic refers only to the left wing of the Democratic Party. I don't have any data on that particular demographic, but 61% of Democrats in general are as angry as Republicans at government.

    February 11, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. Obama/Biden

    I understand the pain out there, but people need to be patient with the government. It took the previous government 8 years plus to mess things they way they were; it is not acceptable for the people to expect Barack Obama to fix them overnight. American people seem to have very short memory. Barack inherited a mess in Washington and he is trying so hard to fix that. But, congress democrat and republican alike are not help to him. They're only fighting each other and worry more about getting their pay check ( getting reelected than working on behalf of America. They're a bunch of special interest folks and that is why they never deliver any good bill. Some of these politician always want something special for their own state to vote in favor of a bill and do not care if they hurt the remaining of America.

    February 11, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  5. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Everytime a poll is released with bad numbers for Dems, this forum is bombarded by libs who refer to voters as, among other things, stupid, ignorant, misguided, rednecks, you name it. Not a word spent on analysis or argument of the underlying results, just ad hominum attacks. Are you libs truly so enlightened that you cannot condescend to engage in a debate?

    "Sarcasm is the protest of people who are weak." John Knowles, A Separate Peace.

    February 11, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. Sarah, Northern Colorado

    Government satisfaction might be a bit higher if the idiocy in all three arms of the government would stop playing politics like it's a football game. The American people are not the prize, and it doesn't matter in the end who wins within the government, because the losers are the people who those self-serving morons are working for.

    Perhaps if both sides of our government would start working together to make this a better nation, satisfaction would become higher.

    February 11, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  7. Right Leaning Independent

    Someone should throw a flip flop at Obama since it is more appropriate than a shoe!! Today he is saying with a straight that he is Pro Business! Is this April Fools day???

    February 11, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  8. Jewel, MT

    After 8 years of George W, no wonder people are unhappy.

    I am completely happy with the government and think president is doing fine. I do however feel there are too many contractors in the government who think about their own self interest, instead of the governments work.

    The contractors used to be outside the door, now they are sitting next to government workers. Shameful.

    February 11, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  9. Tom in Wheaton, Illinois

    The MAIN problem with the Federal Government is the Republican Party who would, rather than play a meaningful role as the loyal opposition party, like to see the whole thing come crumbling down and are doing everything in their power to achieve this. Oh, they're not against big government, they are just against a smart, black Democrat running it. The racial subtexts in all their ranting is so transparent it is laughable. Not all of them are racists, of course; some of them are afraid of smart people.

    February 11, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  10. Rayk

    The FED has grown too big and what we see now is a politic arising where State's rightfully take the power back! Grass roots, Tea Party etc are expressing themselves! I am disgusted with the politic which labels citizens and their efforts as LUDICROUS! We see everyday how they, the power polticians, have a disdain for the common folk. Case in point? Gibbs and his attempt at humour! He represents the President to the Press and what do we see? This is but one example! DC will listen to us or else!

    February 11, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  11. james Miller

    Cycle---– Repubs. feast while in office, public finally sees whats going on, elects Demos who are "stuck with the bill". Puts things on the right road just in time for the Repubs to take credit. Turning around the economy is like turning a battleship, it takes time and room.----- LOOK !! Say what you will, Clinton left us in the black after 8 yrs; Bush gave us what we now have-- record debt !!!

    February 11, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  12. Sgt. USMC

    The repugs are just disappointed that they do not have the power to pass legislation that will benefit... who else? repugs. Oh well, moving on. It's interesting to see that the majority is the least blamed in all of this. Repugs have really dug a hole. Personally the only disappointing thing about the government is that we still have a republican party.

    February 11, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  13. Citizen AJ - Northern Virginia

    Well, when one party is putting out ideas, good or bad, trying to overcome the situation the country is in and the other party is just turning down those ideas, not putting forth new, forward thinking ideas of course people are frustrated. When one party has a majority and cannot execute that majority, yes, people are frustrated. You were voted in with a majority for a reason. Carry out the people's will.

    February 11, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  14. Joseph

    Where are the "HOPE...Y & CHANGE...Y Obummer promises to bring to American people and the country? Although I will never been pooled, I may be one of those 67% of Americans who completely lose the confidence on the democRat congress and Obummer's presidency. These people will never listen to the majority's concerns.

    February 11, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  15. Mark

    I'm not happy because the Democrats are not decisive. They are to busy counting noses to govern. We expected them to focus on these issues, but they became bogged down and surrendered before even putting up a fight. They are being bullied by the minority and deserve the disarray present in their caucus.

    I don't think everyone has suddenly embraced the party of NO, rather it's the Democrats that have choked like usual. If we could take progressive politics and mix it with lockstep support of the majority, we could get a ton of stuff done in a hurry. The GOP is dead wrong on the issues, but at least they recognize they have power if they stick together. The Dems haven't figured that out yet.

    February 11, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. joesmoe

    This has got to be a big misprint like a lot of other things printed.
    The 8 years before this president have to have been the worse.
    If this printing is true then you know who put us there and you expect this
    president to fix it in one year, two years,three years or even four are you crazy, look how long it took us to get in this mess!!!

    February 11, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  17. Spirit of America

    Folks may want to brush up on the sentiment expressed in the Declaration of Independence, especially the part of what our right – even duty – as citizens of a dysfunctional government is. That is the Spirit of America, and it is making a comeback. Big time.

    February 11, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  18. TM in CO

    I believe that the blame lies with both the Democrats and the Republicans. What most of them don't realize that we citizens would be less unhappy if they would start working toward the common goal of the American people who put them in office in the first place instead of marching to the tune of their own private agenda......................Our forefathers must but so ashamed of what our government has become. I know I am

    February 11, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. joel palmer

    People elected a young black president who promised change. What we see are old white people who "stand in the doorway and block up the hall" including the entire GOP and Joe Lieberman and some democrats like Landrieu, Lincoln, Baucus, Conrad, and Stupak.

    There will be terrible vengeqance on both parties if we fail to change the way DC does business (and it will not be pretty). We did not vote for the policies of the South or of the corporations or of the idiots who dug this hole we're in. Stop the wars and get out; balance the budget as soon as the depression is over; stop cutting taxes on the rich; make corporations pay their fair share of taxes and stop the obscene profiteering on Wall Street

    February 11, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  20. Paul

    The Republicans can not continue to obstruct everything from jobs to "nominees". They are shutting down the gov't and do not appear to care that the public wants action. Voting "NO" on anything Obama proposes does not help their chance for the fall.

    February 11, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  21. Sniffit

    Beginning to see the pattern yet? Dem POTUS leads to Republican obstructionism and dilatory tactics to shut down the functioning of the federal government and prevent the Dems from doing anything...and voila...angry populace. Throw in a healthy dose of misinformation campaigning and demogoguery and you've got yourself a fertile patch of ground for Republicans to stir up some pseudo-grass-roots group of angry, misinformed, poorly educated (and apparently mostly unemployed) rabble-rousers who carry an inbred genetic legacy of fearing communism, minorities and foreigners, like to mis-cite the Constitution, and believe that freedom is the government leaving them entirely alone (at least when it's a Dem in office), not ensuring that we live in a healthy, stable society and our rights are protected and free from abuse by powerful special and corporate interests. "I'm fine with the middle-class getting pooped on by corporate America and th epolitical elite as long as the taxes are low on the piddling wages I receive for my indentured servitude." Good on ya.

    February 11, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  22. Phil

    Government has become too big. It's as simple as that. There is also a rise in the Progressive movement, which essentially is trying to void the Constitution. Thankfully there still are people with sense in America and they are speaking up. We need to clean the career politicians out of Congress (both republican and democrat) and start fresh. The National government is meant for National Defense, issuing currency, and whatever the Constituion dictates...nothing more. That is where the states come into play.

    February 11, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  23. A. Goodwin

    Wake up Republican's and start working for the people. Why are people dissatisfied – BECAUSE OF YOUR DO NOTHING PARTY!! Grow up, stop wining, and get to WORK folks.

    February 11, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  24. Michael

    Most of the anger stems from problems created by the Bush administration.
    To vandalize a neighbor's house and then file a complaint against that neighbor with the city compliance department: this is the GOP strategy for the last year.
    Sooner or later, those Americans whose brains are still functioning will figure this out; the GOP is hoping that moment will arrive after elections.

    February 11, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. Old Farmboy

    How can people be so unhappy. Hope and Change is what everybody (that voted for him) wanted. Transparency is what everybody (that voted for him) wanted. I'm sure that you (that voted for him) will find some way, in that hamster wheel you call a mind to blame this on Bush. Here's a little enlightenment for you (that voted for him) . According to this pole, people were happier with the Bush administration than the current one. I really don't understand. Let's look at what he has done. He promised to close GITMO detention. Well, he promised. He give terrorist, that tried to kill you and me if we would have been there, the same rights that many have proudly gave their lives to defend and honor. He's turned us into a monetary puppet of China. The list could go on and on, but I still don't see why you are so unhappy. The party of no, as so many (that voted for him) may so become the party of I told you so...

    Ya'll have a nice day.

    February 11, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
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