- 45% trust U.S. government to handle international problems, up six points
- Trust to handle domestic issues essentially unchanged at 40%
- Independents responsible for uptick in trust to handle foreign problems
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' trust in the federal government to handle international problems has mostly recovered from last year's record-low reading following the United States' troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. The current 45% of U.S. adults who express "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of confidence in the government's handling of foreign issues is up six percentage points from one year ago, when it fell by nine points.
At the same time, the 40% of Americans with the same degree of trust in the government's handling of domestic problems is essentially unchanged near the low point for the trend.
Since 1972, when Gallup first measured Americans' confidence in the federal government's ability to deal with issues at home and abroad, trust in the government's handling of international problems has generally outpaced domestic problems. Over the course of the trend, an average 60% of U.S. adults have had a great deal or fair amount of trust in the government's handling of international problems, compared with 53% expressing the same level of trust for the management of domestic problems.
Majorities of Americans had confidence in the government to deal with foreign problems until 2013. But in the past 10 years, that trust has only once been over half -- 52% in 2017. With respect to domestic problems, the majority has not consistently felt confident in the government's ability to deal with them since 2006, although 51% did so in 2009 and 2012.
Historically, the low point for public confidence in the government's handling of domestic problems is slightly worse than the all-time low for international problems. The domestic rating plunged to 35% in 2019 at the end of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, while the international rating's low of 39% was recorded last year.
Partisans' Trust Strongly Influenced by Party of President
Americans' confidence in the federal government's handling of international and national problems diverges sharply along partisan lines and has shifted when the party of the president switches. That is, when a Democratic president is in the White House, strong majorities of rank-and-file Democrats express trust in the government's handling of international and domestic issues. The reverse is the case when a Republican is in office. For their part, independents' confidence levels have been more stable than the two major parties'.
The latest reading, from a Sept. 1-16 Gallup poll, finds 74% of Democrats, 46% of independents and 19% of Republicans trusting the government to handle international problems. Last year, after Joe Biden assumed the presidency, Republicans' trust fell 70 points to a record-low 15%, while Democrats' surged 49 points to 75%.
Republicans' and Democrats' current readings are essentially unchanged from last year, but independents' trust has increased 14 points, which is driving the overall increase.
Partisans' trust in the government's handling of domestic issues, which also flipped last year after Biden took office, is statistically similar to the 2021 readings. Currently, 73% of Democrats, 36% of independents and 17% of Republicans express confidence in the government's ability to address national problems.
Americans' confidence in the government in Washington to handle international and domestic problems remains on the lower end of the trend, although their confidence in the federal government to deal with issues abroad has risen somewhat in the past year. Partisans' views of the government's competence in these two arenas remain politically polarized, with perspectives determined by whether their own party matches that of the sitting president.
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