- Trust to handle domestic issues at 39% compared with 45% last year
- Shows slight recovery from January shutdown when 35% trusted gov't
- Half trust government to handle international problems
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Although Americans' confidence in the government to handle domestic and international problems is up from the record lows seen around the time of the partial government shutdown in January, only views of international problems have recovered to last year's levels.
Currently, 39% of Americans express a "great deal" or "fair amount" of confidence in government to handle domestic issues, up modestly from the low of 35% in January, but below the 45% measured a year ago. At the same time, confidence in the government to handle international problems has fully recovered after dipping to 41% in January and now stands at 50%.
The latest data come from Gallup's annual Governance poll, conducted Sept. 3-15. Domestically, during this period, debates continued over gun control in the wake of multiple mass shootings, and congressional lawmakers investigated technology companies over allegations of antitrust law violations. On the international front, the Donald Trump administration continued to engage in a trade war with China, disputes with Europe, and heightened tensions with Iran, while peace talks to end U.S. involvement in the 18-year-long war in Afghanistan fell apart.
Despite facing a series of difficult domestic and international issues, confidence among the U.S. public in the ability of the government to handle these issues is up after record lows in January, when the government was just ending its longest shutdown in U.S. history.
Independents Drive Bump in Confidence on Domestic Issues
The modest increase in Americans' confidence in government to handle domestic issues is being driven by increased confidence among political independents. Thirty-six percent of independents now say they have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the government to handle domestic problems, compared with 28% earlier this year. This rise in confidence brings independents back to the level seen in 2018 when 37% said they had confidence in the government to solve domestic problems.
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Republicans' attitudes are unchanged with 58% saying they are confident in the government's ability to handle domestic problems, compared with 59% earlier this year. However, Republican confidence is still down markedly from the 71% recorded in September 2018. Among Democrats, the current 25% who say they have confidence in the government to handle domestic issues reflects the lowest level in Gallup's trend since 1997.
All Partisan Groups Have Increased Confidence on International Issues
Unlike confidence on domestic issues, where the increase is driven by one partisan group, improved sentiment on the government's ability to handle international issues is up among all partisan groups. Among Republicans, confidence rose modestly to 72%, up from 66% in January. For Democrats, there was also a modest rise, with 32% now confident in the government to handle international issues, compared with 26% earlier this year. Among independents, 46% say they have confidence, up from 38% in January.
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Americans' confidence in government to handle domestic and international problems has rebounded off record lows earlier this year, as memories of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history have likely faded. Americans' confidence in the government to handle international issues is now back to levels prior to the shutdown; however, trust in its ability to handle domestic problems remains lower than it was before the shutdown began. The lack of a full recovery on domestic issues could reflect the realities of a divided government in Washington. Although there has been some progress made on immigration funding and government spending, difficult partisan divides persist on those issues as well as others such as gun control.
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