September 14th, 2010
05:04 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Only quarter of public trusts government

Washington (CNN) - A new poll indicates that only one in four Americans say they trust the government to do what is right always or most of the time, one explanation for the anti-incumbent sentiment in the country today.

According to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey released Tuesday, 25 percent of the public indicates that they trust the government in Washington to do what's is right most or all of the time, with 66 percent saying they trust the government to do what's right only some of the time and eight percent saying they never trust the government.

Full results [pdf]

"That lack of trust in government is not a recent phenomenon - except for a brief spike fueled by patriotism immediately after 9/11, a majority have not trusted the government since the early 1970s," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

But the recession appears to have made matters worse.

"Ten years ago, roughly four in ten said they trusted the government always or most of the time; that number dropped to the mid-to-low 30's in the middle part of the decade, but then dropped to the 20s in 2008, where it has stayed ever since. The all-time low in CNN polls was in the summer of 1994 - just before Newt Gingrich led the GOP to take control on Capitol Hill - when only 17 percent said they trusted the government most or all of the time," adds Holland.

The survey indicates a partisan divide, with Democrats expressing more trust in the government, but even among Democrats, only four in ten express that level of trust in government.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted September 1-2, with 1,024 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

Filed under: CNN Polls
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. jules sand-perkins

    I trust the current government under President Obama to tax me as much as possible so others can sleep late and then watch Oprah.
    I trust President Obama to provide FREEDOM FROM FAILURE to all citizens as well as to illegal immigrants.
    Yep! I have a lot of trust.

    September 14, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    LOL Liberals and left wingers have ALWAYS had mistrust of the goverment. This goes all the way back to the 60's and 70's protests. The difference is that when they did it the conservatives called it "Unpatriotic" and "Un-American". Remember the slogan "America, LOVE IT or LEAVE IT"?
    NOW all of a sudden you have conservatives and far right wingers claiming that THEY don't trust the goverment..forming Tea Parties with protest marching and the like. What hapened? Well I think electing a non-White president is a BIG part of the problem. Remember he is NOT one of them, not LIKE them and can't be trusted. How "UN-American" of them to feel that way!!

    September 14, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. Frank in Valparaiso Indiana

    Define government. That our courts are not as corrupt as the rest on this continent? That we don't shoot our legislators during elections? Our roads are safe to drive on, our cops dont' shake you down? That we have a safe well regulated stock market unlike others. For the most part you don't die from food in stores.

    We have raised a nation of idiots. Or rather low hanging fruit Republicans.

    September 14, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. Orlando Patriot

    I'm surprised it is that high. I don't trust government any farther than I can throw them. Throw the whole damn bunch out and start over!! We need politicians that work for US and not the other way around!!

    September 14, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  5. mick

    THAT HIGH some people never wake up .Maybe if the Government Investigated 911 people would have more confidence in the Governments ability to protect them ...GOP or DEM's .

    September 14, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  6. John

    I have more trust in Government control by Obama Administration than big powerful Insurance Co, Oil Co,Credit Card Co,Mortage Co, Drugs Co.or any other big Corporation.Our Government will prevent them from Controling and Ripping off America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

    September 14, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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