NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Growing Gap in Favorable Views of Federal, State Governments

May 1, 2012

Just a third of Americans have a favorable opinion of the federal government, the lowest positive rating in 15 years.  Yet opinions about state and local governments remain favorable, on balance.  As a result, the gap between favorable ratings of the federal government and state and local governments is wider than ever, says the Pew Center for Research.

  • Ten years ago, roughly two-thirds of Americans offered favorable assessments of all three levels of government: federal, state and local.
  • But in the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, the favorable rating for the federal government has fallen to just 33 percent; nearly twice as many (62 percent) have an unfavorable view.
  • By contrast, ratings of state governments remain in positive territory, with 52 percent offering a favorable and 42 percent an unfavorable opinion of their state government.
  • And local governments are viewed even more positively -- by roughly two-to-one (61 percent to 31 percent) most Americans offer a favorable assessment of their local government.

Although favorability ratings for state governments declined between 2008 and 2009 as the financial crisis hit, they have remained steady over the past four years.  Consequently, the gap between ratings of state governments and the federal government has grown.

  • While the balance of opinion toward state governments is favorable, majorities say their state government is not careful with people's money (56 percent), is too divided along party lines (53 percent) and is generally inefficient (51 percent).
  • But much larger percentages fault the federal government's performance in those areas.
  • Moreover, while more say their state government is mostly honest rather than mostly corrupt (by 49 percent to 37 percent), a majority (54 percent) says the federal government is mostly corrupt.

Source: "Growing Gap in Favorable Views of Federal, State Governments," Pew Research Center, April 26, 2012.

For text:


Browse more articles on Government Issues