Just 22% of the poll’s respondents said they trust the federal government almost always or most of the time. That’s one of the all-time low points in the survey and represents a decline from when Obama took office.
The last time Americans felt this discontent with Washington was 1994. The similarities are eerie: A newly elected Democrat was in the White House, the country was recovering from a recession, and President Bill Clinton was making an aggressive push for government-run health care.
Republicans took control of Congress that November—and that was after Hillarycare failed to win approval in Congress.
“Health care reform contributed in the second half of last year to this growing concern about the power of government,” Pew Research Center Director Andrew Kohut told NPR. “The public,” he added, “wants a less activist government.”
Pew’s survey found the percentage who believe the federal government has the wrong priorities stands at 38 percent, a sharp increase from 29 percent in 1997. Half of Americans say government is inefficient. The full survey, along with several charts, is available from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Polling was done at the height of the health care debate, between March 11-21, contributing to the 24 percent positive view of Congress—the lowest ever recorded in the survey. In fact, Kohut indicated the numbers were so bad that Pew took additional surveys prior to releasing the data.
“We were concerned that we had done this in the middle of the health care reform controversy and maybe we were getting kind of a misread on it,” Kohut told NPR. “But we did two or three follow-up national surveys and we found the same negative numbers.”
When asked by Heritage if the survey was intentionally not released to avoid having an impact on the health care debate, a spokesman for the Pew Research Center rebuffed the idea. He said the intention was always to release the data in April.