By almost every conceivable measure, Americans are less positive and more critical of their government these days. There is a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of government—a dismal economy, an unhappy public, and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials.
These are among the principal findings from a new series of Pew Research Center surveys. Rather than an activist government to deal with the nation’s top problems, these surveys show that the general public now wants government reformed and a growing number want its power curtailed. With the exception of greater regulation of Wall Street, there is less of an appetite for government solutions to the nation’s problems—including greater government control over the economy—than there was when Barack Obama first took office.
The public’s hostility toward government seems likely to be an important election issue favoring the Republicans this fall. But the Democrats can take some solace in the fact that neither party can be confident it has the advantage among such a disillusioned electorate. Favorable ratings for both major parties, as well as for Congress, have reached record lows. Opposition to congressional incumbents, already approaching an all-time high, continues to climb.