- 57% of Americans say the FBI is doing an excellent or good job
- Democrats (64%) more likely to rate job performance as excellent or good
- 28% of Republicans say bureau doing a poor job
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the FBI has played a prominent role in investigating the Trump campaign's connections with Russian operatives, and the White House and certain FBI leaders clashed verbally, the majority of Americans continue to describe the job the FBI is doing as either "excellent" or "good." At the same time, there has been an uptick in the number who rate its performance in more negative terms.
The latest data were gathered in a Gallup poll fielded April 17-30, just days after the initial release of the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election. Although headed by the Department of Justice, the investigation took over matters that the FBI was investigating under its previous leader, James Comey. The investigation had been often criticized by President Donald Trump and some Republican leaders who referred to it as a "witch hunt" and repeatedly questioned the motives of various actors within both the DOJ and the FBI.
While the 57% of Americans who rate the FBI's job as excellent or good has been stable, there have been some shifts in the percentage rating it as "only fair" or "poor," or not having an opinion. Just 1% did not express an opinion about the FBI in the current survey, while in recent years the percentage has averaged 7%.
Consequently, the percentage giving the FBI a negative rating has increased, with a combined 42% rating it as either poor or only fair. Separately, the 19% who currently give the FBI the most negative rating -- saying it is doing a poor job -- is the highest Gallup has measured to date. The previous high was 15% in December 2017, and all other poor ratings were between 8% and 12%.
Twenty-three percent rate the FBI's performance as only fair, on the lower end of what Gallup has measured over time, with most prior fair ratings between 27% and 31%.
Overall Job Ratings Mask Increase in GOP's Negative Assessments
Democrats are most likely among party groups to rate the FBI positively -- 64% say they are doing a good or excellent job. Republicans are most likely to rate the FBI's job performance as poor, but not all Republicans hold this view.
Although only 14% of Republicans say the FBI is doing an excellent job, their views toward the FBI are more nuanced than that might imply. With another 34% rating the FBI good, nearly half of the GOP are generally positive toward the agency while the other half are more negative. The more negative group includes 23% calling the FBI's performance only fair and 28% rating it poor.
Unlike most other national agencies, such as the Secret Service and the IRS, both of which have previously seen declines in their job performance ratings as they were the focus of widely reported controversies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation seems to have maintained its mostly positive image with most Americans.
However, the more recent, sharp uptick in poor job ratings and decline in fair ratings of the bureau among Republicans could foreshadow a more partisan-driven divide in how Americans rate the institutions in the years to come. Republicans' poor ratings of the FBI have been elevated the last two polls -- during the time of the Mueller investigation -- and are significantly higher than Gallup had measured before for any party group.
Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.