4 February 2013

A survey of public opinion two weeks ago shows that 73% of Americans say they can trust government only some of the time, or that they can never trust the government. Just 26% say they can trust the government always or most of the time. This annual Pew survey shows that a very similar level of distrust has persisted for the last seven years – trust that eroded during the Bush presidency has never been regained. Over that period trust in the federal government to do the right thing always or most of the time has tracked below 30%.

Just 20% of respondents say they are basically content with the federal government – a rise from a nadir of 11% in 2011. 58% say they are frustrated with government while 19% say they are angry (fewer than the 26% who, in 2011, said they were angry with the government.)

Hispanics have more trust always or most of the time in the government (44%) than blacks (38%) or whites (20%). People under 30 have more trust in government than others. And unsurprisingly, more Democrats (38%) than Republicans (15%) say they can trust the government most of the time.

The extent of New Zealanders’ trust in institutions and government agencies will be updated in the 2013 UMR Mood of the Nation report, publication of which is imminent. Although the Pew survey shows low public trust in the United States Government, in the OECD Better Life Index, Americans at 76% say they have more positive experiences in an average day than the OECD average (72%). 78% of New Zealanders have these positive experiences in an average day.