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(AFP) – Nearly one out of three Americans view the US government as a “major threat” to their freedoms, and four out of five say they don’t trust Washington to solve their problems, according to a new poll out Monday.
Just 19 percent say they are “basically content” with the federal government, against 56 percent who say they are “frustrated” and 21 percent who describe themselves as “angry,” the Pew Research Center survey found.
Only 22 percent say they trust Washington to do what is right4 almost always or most of the time, according to the survey, which had an error margin of plus or minus four percentage points.
The first time Pew asked the question, in 1958, 73 percent of Americans said they trusted the government. In mid-1994, just 17 percent said the same.
The US public has historically expressed distrust in Washington, but a sour economy, epic frustration with the US Congress, and an increasingly polarized electorate have fanned the flames, Pew said.
The findings could spell trouble for President Barack Obama’s Democrats in November mid-term elections, with 53 percent saying the federal government needs “very major reform,” though Republicans do not get high marks either.
When Obama took office in January 2009, 62 percent of Americans said they viewed Democrats favorably, against just 40 percent for Republicans — and the president’s party now only has a 38 percent-37 percent edge over his critics.
Just 25 percent said they had a favorable view of the Congress, just half of what it was one year ago and the lowest in a quarter century of Pew surveys.
But while 58 percent say the government has gone too far in regulating the economy, 61 percent say they want tougher government rules for Wall Street — a boon to Obama and Democrats who have made that their top domestic goal now that the president has signed his historic health care overhaul into law.