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Americans’ Views of Government: Low Trust, but Some Positive Performance Ratings

“For years, public trust in the federal government has hovered at near-record lows. That remains the case today, as the United States struggles with a pandemic and economic recession. Just 20% of U.S. adults say they trust the government in Washington to “do the right thing” just about always or most of the time. Yet Americans also have long expressed positive views of the federal government’s performance in several specific areas. And majorities want the government to play a major role on everything from keeping the country safe from terrorism to ensuring access to health care and alleviating poverty. Attitudes about the appropriate role for government and its performance have changed only modestly since 2017, though Democrats have become more critical of government performance in some areas since then. Among the public overall, majorities say the government does a very good or somewhat good job keeping the country safe from terrorism (72%), responding to natural disasters (62%), ensuring safe food and medicine (62%), strengthening the economy (54%) and maintaining infrastructure (53%). Americans are far more critical of how the government handles several other issues, including managing the immigration system (just 34% say it does a good job), helping people get out of poverty (36%) and effectively handling threats to public health (42%)…These are among the findings of Pew Research Center’s study of attitudes about government, which updates studies from 2019, 2017 and 2015. ..”

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