Poll: Majority of Americans pessimistic when it comes to D.C.’s ability to fix nation’s problems

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, January 2, 2014

Americans aren’t very optimistic about the ability of the federal government to solve the nation’s biggest problems, according to a new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Center study released Wednesday.

The poll found that 70 percent of Americans lack confidence in Washington, D.C.’s ”to make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014,”: making it more than a decade since a majority of Americans have had confidence in the federal government.

In addition, one in two Americans believe that America’s system of representative democracy needs either “a lot of changes” or a complete overhaul. Just 1 in 20 Americans believe that the government is working as it is.

Very few are optimistic as well that our country has the ability to produce strong leaders. Six in ten Americans responded that they are pessimistic about our current system of government overall and the way elected leaders are chosen.

When asked what problems they would like to see the government work on fixing in 2014, Americans largely said that healthcare reform, jobs and the economy, and the nation’s debt and deficit spending were their main priorities.

Americans are generally split, however, when it comes to how active they want the government to be in American society. Half of all Americans believe “the less government the better,” while 48 percent believe “there are more things that government should be doing.” Incidentally, they really want the government to be more involved when it comes to managing the economy, with 57 percent of Americans believing “we need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems.”

Fortunately, people are generally more optimistic about the state of their own lives, as a majority of Americans have at least some confidence they’ll be able to manage their own problems in 2014. With that said, 49 percent of the 86 percent of Americans who called healthcare reform a top priority are not confident at all that there will be real progress on the issue, and another 20 percent are only slightly confident.

AP-NORC Center conducted an online study of 1,141 adults nationwide from Dec. 12-16, 2013. The study has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points. 

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