Just a few hours ahead of President Obama's strategy oration, we thought worth noting that Americans' trust in the federal government to handle international problems has fallen to a record-low 43%. According to Gallup, confidence in the government to handle international problems slid 17 percentage points last year, when the Obama administration was planning military action against Syria. Unsurprisingly, Democrats remain the most confident in the government as Republicans' faith has collapsed. But it's not just international, only 40% of Americans have any confidence that government can handle domestic problems - also a record low.
Americans' confidence in the government to handle international problems slid 17 percentage points last year, when the Obama administration was planning military action against Syria. Russia later brokered an agreement to avert that action. Last year's poll marked the first time that fewer than half of Americans trusted the federal government's ability to deal with international threats. With the world stage seemingly more unstable now, the public's trust has dipped an additional six percentage points this year.
Likewise, trust in the government's ability to handle domestic problems dropped slightly this year after a larger decline in 2013. Although the economy has improved, it may be overshadowed by partisan gridlock in Washington, which has led to little formal government action to deal with important domestic challenges facing the United States. Indeed, Americans have consistently mentioned dissatisfaction with government as one of the most important problems facing the country in 2014.
The level of trust in the government to handle both domestic and international matters is nearly half what it was at the high point Gallup measured, shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks. In October 2001, 83% trusted the government's ability to deal with international problems and 77% trusted its ability to handle domestic ones.
Democrats' trust in the federal government has been far less shaken than that of Republicans and independents in the last two years.
Gallup has never measured lower levels of trust in the federal government to handle pressing issues than now.
That includes the Watergate era in 1974, when 51% of Americans trusted the government's ability to handle domestic problems and 73% trusted its ability to deal with international problems, and also at the tail end of the Bush administration when his job approval ratings were consistently below 40% and frequently below 30%.
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The key question going forward is whether Americans' trust in the federal government can ever be restored.