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More People Than Ever Are Unhappy With The Government, Poll Shows

Gallup's latest polling on how Americans feel about the way they're being governed.
Gallup's latest polling on how Americans feel about the way they're being governed.

In some ways this news just states the obvious. But it's still worth noting that according to the pollsters at Gallup:

"A record-high 81 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed, adding to negativity that has been building over the past 10 years."

The question they were asked: "On the whole, would you say you are satisfied or dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed?"

Just 19 percent said they are "satisfied."

During the Reagan, Bush I and Clinton administrations, Gallup's polls showed that more Americans were satisfied than were dissatisfied by the way the nation was being governed. Then, during President George W. Bush's second term, the numbers reversed.

For a brief moment shortly after the last presidential election, Gallup's data started to show some improvement in the public's opinion of government. Since late 2009, though, dissatisfaction has been on the rise again.

As we reported earlier, there's another "shutdown showdown" happening this week in Washington — something that won't help improve the public's opinion of lawmakers.

Gallup's latest reading is based on "telephone interviews conducted Sept. 8-11, 2011, with a random sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.