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Majority of Americans dissatisfied with government, think it's too big

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Wikimedia Commons

According to a new Gallup poll, conducted between Jan. 5-8 with the results released on Wednesday, the majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the federal government.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said that they are dissatisfied with the federal government, an increase from 60 percent last year.

The level of dissatisfaction is mostly split along party lines. Republicans and independents are more critical of the government than Democrats.

“Satisfaction among Republicans and independents began to wane during President George W. Bush's final year in office,” writes Justin McCarthy for Gallup. “This may have reflected mounting public dissatisfaction with the Iraq war, coupled with the Democratic takeover of Congress after the 2006 midterm elections. Both groups' satisfaction plummeted still more between 2008 and 2011, and has since dipped further. Republicans' satisfaction went from a peak of 79% in 2005 to a low of 28% in each of the past two years. Meanwhile, Democrats' satisfaction has been remarkably steady, generally hovering near 50%, and is essentially the same as it was in 2004 under a Republican president.”

McCarthy speculates that Democratic approval of the government may have been higher if it weren't for “the twin problems of the economy and partisan gridlock that have tarnished the government's image among both parties.”

The poll also found that most Americans believe that the government is too big. Sixty-six percent said that they are either very or somewhat dissatisfied with the government's size and power.

These results reflect the findings of a similar, international poll from public relations firm Edelman, released on Monday, that found that trust in government among college-educated adults is dropping in other countries as well.

In France, for instance, only 32 percent reported that they trust that country's government, which is a decrease of 17 points from last year's poll. This is most likely a result of growing frustration with French president Francois Hollande, whose policies are being blamed for a stagnating economy.

Worldwide, only 44 percent of those with a college education reported that they trust government, which is a decrease of four points from last year.

Trust in business, however, is higher, at 58 percent, which is the largest gap between trust in government and business that Edelman has found in the 14 years of conducting this poll.