February 21st, 2010
08:45 AM ET
13 years ago

CNN Poll: Majority think government is broken


Eighty-six percent of people questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll say that our system of government is broken. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

Washington (CNN) - Americans overwhelmingly think that the government in this country is broken, according to a new national poll. But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Sunday morning, also indicates that the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what's broken can be fixed.

Eighty-six percent of people questioned in the poll say that our system of government is broken, with 14 percent saying no. Of that 86 percent, 81 percent say that the government can be fixed, with 5 percent saying it's beyond repair.

Full results (pdf)

The number of Americans who think the government is broken has grown eight points since 2006. "That increase is highest among higher-income Americans and people who live in rural areas," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Maybe it's just a coincidence, but those are the groups that make up the bulk of the Tea Party activists today."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall survey.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: CNN poll • Popular Posts
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Daniel Corsivo

    Government is broken, not in the sense that the our Constitution has any inherent flaws, but in that our two major political parties are flawed, the Democrats, and the Republicans.

    They are flawed in the way that they are basically saying there are two types of people in the United States, You either stand with one party, or the other.

    I have a hard time understanding the notion that to be a Democrat or a Republican, that you have to strictly adhere to a certain set of values.

    There are beliefs and policies from both parties that I agree with. There are also policies from both parties that I disagree with. So, if I chose to run for public office, and be successful in obtaining a public seat, I would have to align myself with one party or the other in order to have a chance at winning that seat, therefore, compromising some of my beliefs.

    I am sure many people agree with the point I am making, as we are seeing more and more people registering, and voting as Independents. But, even with the recent uptick of Independent voters, they are still a super-minority party.

    At least with an Independent politician, you know you are voting for someone that isn't adhering to a moral code that is not his or her own. Independents have the freedom to truly present and represent themselves, and others like them.

    I am increasingly becoming disenfranchised with each major party, and their inability to work together. We are not making any progress. Each party blames the other, when in fact they are both to blame. Both Democrats and Republicans.

    In order to get things moving again, we need to do away with the ability for either party to filibuster. We need to have a government which operates on a basis of true-majority, and not a super-majority. In the event there should be a split-vote, then, the deciding vote should go to the current seated President. This will ensure that government continues to work, and doesn't come to the screeching halt that is currently taking place.

    February 21, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. annie against biased news

    Either by ignorance or intentional, obama has done everything he can to destroy our country and continues to do so on a daily basis. So many of the things he has done are treasonous or borderline treasonous ie apologizing to foreign countries for the great USA. Our country has helped virtually every nation around the world and needs NO apology. If a sitting so-called president feels compelled to do this then they have no business being president of the greatest nation in the world. obama's borrow, spend, spend borrow policy is destroying our country and selling our beloved country out to the highest bidder.

    February 21, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  3. Political parties are unconstitutional

    The remaining 14% must be people who either can't read or who have some form of cognitive deficiency.

    Time to abolish political parties altogether. Vote every incumbent out. Vote against any candidate who toes a party line at the cost of the voices of the actual people who live in their district. Bring on proportional representation in the Electoral College. Or, better yet, abolish the Representative framework and let's make this a true democracy, like we shove down other nation's throats. One citizen, one vote. Then we'll see the truth of the matter...and that terrifies both political parties.

    Ignorance is NOT bliss. America, get a clue.

    February 21, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  4. Chris

    With their usual fallacious reasoning, those on the Right will claim that since the Democrats are in the majority then this must be seen as an indictment againt the Left. However, whenever the pollsters ask who is to blame for Washington's breakdown, the Republicans or the Democrats, the majortiy of Americans are angry at the GOP. The system is broken when people who are elected to serve their country try to completely stop anything from happening. The system is broken when one party is committed to only obstruction. The system is broken when the minority feel they are the only ones entitled to power and can dictate to the majority what they can or can not do.

    February 21, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. Richard

    government is broken... thanks to the party of no that acts like a jeolous ex boyfriend saying if I cant have you noone can!! OBSTRUCTIONISM IS ANTI- AMERICAN !!!

    February 21, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  6. geoff

    Government used to be something for the common good. Now it's something we must endure. Republicans, Democrats? Makes no difference. They're all weasels drunk on power, incapable of solving problems, unwilling to work toward common ground, owned by special interests and unbelievably patronizing when it comes to holding on to their political perch. They have zero credibility and less value.

    But we can do something. Abandon your position as a liberal, conservative, whatever. Vote *against* the incumbent no matter who they are. When we get a 100 percent turnover in the House and a 33 percent turnover in the Senate, then both parties will shudder, take notice and pay attention to who they really serve. We may have different ideologies, but what we have in common is that it is *our* government. So let's take it back.

    February 21, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. Hugo

    So if our very leaders are decrying that our current government is broken, why are we not dethroning them all through our Constitutional mechanisms and replacing each and every one of them from top to bottom with a complete new line up of patriots and not special interest lawyers looking to pad their pockets at our cost. It is no wonder they have no fear of accountability or responsibility for their inept and negligent decisions. Even our VP and Pres have claimed it broken, they can't do the job and our Congress is inept, why are we waiting for an election to simply replace the cogs in a broken machine, we should be demanding immediate action NOW!?

    February 21, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. Lee

    I love the irony of the 2 headlines in a row: 86% of us think the government is broken and Ron Paul leads the straw poll. The reason government is broken is that it has so many partisan extremes, and those politicians who just criticize and make sound-bite statements get elected. We need to elect moderates from both sides who will work to solve our many problems. With the economy, global warming, unstable countries we rely on... we need to solve problems and stop selfish political bickering. And we should not vote for candidates who won't do that!

    February 21, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. stormerF

    It does not take much to see Washington,D.C. is broken. Spending is out of control,the Deficit is beyond belief,and the budget is even filled with pork. Now is the time to stop the spending but will the politicans listen?.Taking so much debt in order to further a welfare state is bad and we need to have someone or many take control and stop this downward spiral. Even we at home know you can not spend your way out of debt,why does Washington,D.C. not understand this?

    February 21, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    @ J What are progressives, who are they?
    They are those who DO NOT believe in the US Constitution! They believe that modern times have changed what freedom Liberty mean.
    They are wrong in this thing, Freedom and Liberty has never been defined in a better fashion of government in the history of Human society. What we truly need is a return to the principles that this country was founded on!
    What are progressives, who are they?
    They are those who DO NOT believe in the US Constitution! They believe that modern times have changed what freedom Liberty mean.
    They are wrong in this thing, Freedom and Liberty has never been defined in a better fashion of government in the history of Human society. What we truly need is a return to the principles that this country was founded on!

    February 21, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. deb

    This is just more Republican propaganda to get the American people to forget what the previous administration did to our great country. The republicans need to quit hating and criticizing the current administration and offer some help and solutions to the problems. Unfortunately there are too many uninformed Americans who jump on any bandwagon not knowing anything about politics or what is happening in our country. It's a sad state of affairs. People need to educate themselves by actually reading a newspaper! Too many people just listen to the talking heads like Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, etc., who offer nothing positive or constructive, just hate, gloom and doom!

    February 21, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. Tom T

    The Senate Democrats finally seem to be getting the message. People want real healthcare reform one that is simple and easy to understand such as a Medicare Buy In, removal of Anti Trust, no denial for pre-existing conditions. Show by actuarial studies what the buy in would cost in comparison to Private insurance. This would in all likelyhood keep Medicare viable for decades. Including a large segment of the healthier younger folks would give them very affordable insurance and bring real competition to the industry. Reconciliation is being supported by more and more democratic Senators everyday. Polls show that most Americans want a strong public option and that is encouraging the Democrats to move forward get something passed. The GOP is not going to go along, so just leave them out of the picture and giterdone.

    February 21, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. Not broken

    Our nation is not broken, its just been hijacked by persons that wish to force us down a path of Big Goverment, More tax and Spend and less Freedoms.

    February 21, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  14. Mike

    Yes, I agree the goverment is broken because of the backward thinking Obama, and the rest of the Dems. When people show up is droves to talk at town meeting during the summer ,and the goverment turns it's noses up at them. When the obama people have no reguard for american history, and what made this nation great. It seems to me I voted for Obama because I thought he would continue listening to the people. All I can see his him TURNING THE VOLUME DOWN ON THE PEOPLE THAT VOTED FOR HIM.


    February 21, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Government will remain broken until the voters throw the "obstructionists" out of office. These republicans are doing everything they can to stop any progress by President Obama, and the taxpayers are suffering the consequences of their political game.

    February 21, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  16. Pam

    Dan in Florida is right, I know people who vote for the incumbent because he's been there so long. , no matter what insane lies come out of his mouth.

    February 21, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
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