Washington (CNN) - The public's trust in the federal government has dropped to an all-time low, according to a new national survey.
A CNN/ORC International Poll released Wednesday morning indicates that only 15 percent of Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what's right just about always or most of the time. Last September that figure was at 25 percent. Seventy-seven percent of people questioned say they trust the federal government only some of the time, and an additional eight percent volunteer that they never trust the government to do what's right.
In the past five years the number who say they trust the government "always" or "most of the time" was usually in the low-to-mid 20's. Before the recession hit that number was usually in the low-to-mid 30's, and slightly more than a decade ago, it was in the high 30's or occasionally just over 40 percent.
"The previous all-time low was 17 percent, set in the summer of 1994," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Before the Watergate scandal, a majority of Americans said they trusted the government always or most of the time, but since 1974 that has happened only during a brief period in 2001 immediately after the 9/11 terrorism attacks."
The survey was conducted Friday through Sunday, during the congressional standoff between Democrats and Republicans over disaster relief funding threatened to possibly force a federal government shutdown. An agreement preventing a government shutdown was reached late Monday night.
The poll indicates a partisan divide when it comes to trust.
"Not surprisingly, Democrats are more likely to trust the federal government than Republicans, but even among Democrats, more than two-thirds say they rarely trust the government," adds Holland.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from September 23-25, with 1,010 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report