Americans’ views of gov't: Sliver of support in widespread distrust - Pew

This negative sentiment toward the government, reflected in the fact that only about 20% of Americans trust Washington, has been persistent since the second term of President George W. Bush.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during a rally following a march in opposition to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) mandates on the National Mall, in Washington, DC, US, January 23, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/TOM BRENNER)
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during a rally following a march in opposition to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) mandates on the National Mall, in Washington, DC, US, January 23, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/TOM BRENNER)

New findings from the Pew Research Center indicate that Americans overwhelmingly distrust their government. 

The survey was conducted throughout April and May 2022, with researchers surveying a random sample of 5,074 adults in the United States. Per the Pew Research Center, the survey was "weighted to be representative of the US adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories."

This negative sentiment toward the government, reflected in the fact that only about 20% of Americans trust Washington, has been persistent since the second term of President George W. Bush.

Distrust of Washington

Criticisms of the US government collected in the study are many and varied.

Participants claimed that Washington is careless with taxpayer money, and is not responsive to the needs of ordinary Americans. Only about a quarter of Americans felt that the government has done a good job handling immigration and aiding the poor. 

There were some positive ratings, for specific phenomena. Some 70% of Americans surveyed said that the government does a good job responding to natural disasters, and nearly that many also felt that the government successfully keeps the country safe from terrorism. 

 US President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, US, March 1, 2022 (credit: VIA REUTERS) US President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, US, March 1, 2022 (credit: VIA REUTERS)

Divisions along party lines

Views differed based on political party, but not extremely so. For example, 65% of participants said that politicians in general, at all levels of government, are seeking to serve their own personal interests. Among that 65%, there was a nearly even split between Democrats and Republicans

Overall, while about three-quarters of Americans are not satisfied with the current state of the nation, about 68% of those surveyed are still confident in the future of the United States.