Americans’ Satisfaction With U.S. Government Hits Record Low

Just 18 percent of citizens are satisfied with the way the country is being run, the lowest in more than 40 years.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelsoi, D-Calif.
National Journal
Marina Koren
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Marina Koren
Oct. 10, 2013, 1:12 p.m.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment’s fan base is shrink­ing — and fast. Just 18 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans say they are sat­is­fied with the way the coun­try is be­ing gov­erned, down from last month’s 32 per­cent, re­cor­ded be­fore the gov­ern­ment shut­down, ac­cord­ing to a new Gal­lup Poll.

The num­ber is the low­est the polling agency has seen since it first star­ted ask­ing cit­izens wheth­er they were sat­is­fied with gov­ern­ment in 1971. It edges out the pre­vi­ous low of 19 per­cent, re­cor­ded in Septem­ber 2011, fol­low­ing a last-minute deal by law­makers to raise the debt ceil­ing and save the na­tion from de­fault. Be­fore that, the low­est level of sat­is­fac­tion with how the na­tion was gov­erned clocked in at 26 per­cent, dur­ing the Wa­ter­gate scan­dal in Septem­ber 1973.

The new re­cord re­flects Amer­ic­ans’ thin­ning pa­tience for the on­go­ing fisc­al fights in Wash­ing­ton. This week, dys­func­tion on Cap­it­ol Hill sur­passed the eco­nomy as what Amer­ic­ans viewed to be the coun­try’s biggest prob­lem. Pub­lic opin­ion of Pres­id­ent Obama, as well as of Re­pub­lic­an and Demo­crat­ic con­gres­sion­al lead­ers, is worse this month than be­fore the shut­down.

With one week left be­fore the Treas­ury’s debt-ceil­ing dead­line, these law­makers have star­ted to hustle. House Re­pub­lic­ans are pre­par­ing a short-term plan to lift the debt ceil­ing for six weeks to pro­tect the na­tion from de­fault. Sen­ate Demo­crats are vot­ing this week­end on a bill to ex­tend the lim­it un­til the end of the year. Both sides, however, will not mean­ing­fully ne­go­ti­ate on a long-term deal un­til they open the gov­ern­ment. There’s no light at the end of the tun­nel: Even if the House’s six-week plan makes it through the Sen­ate and to Obama’s desk, Wash­ing­ton will likely be em­broiled in budget talks for weeks to come, test­ing its con­stitu­ents’ pa­tience even more.

The poll was con­duc­ted through tele­phone in­ter­views between Oct. 3 and Oct. 6, with a ran­dom sample of 1,028, aged 18 and older, in all 50 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia. The mar­gin of er­ror is plus or minus 4 per­cent­age points.

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