Monday, April 19, 2010


The Pew Research Center has released a new survey, and what we're supposed to take away from it is summarized in the first sentence of Pew's overview...

By almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days.

...and also in NPR's lede:

Americans' trust in government and its institutions has plummeted to a near-historic low, according to a sobering new survey by the Pew Research Center.

Only 22 percent of Americans surveyed by Pew say they can trust government in Washington "almost always or most of the time" -- among the lowest measures in the half-century since pollsters have been asking the question....

Well, no surprise, right? It's the economy. It's the bailouts. It's the health care bill, or whatever the hell people imagine is in the health care bill. And...

...oh yeah, it's also this, which Pew's Andrew Kohut mentioned in the audio version of the NPR story, as broadcast this morning:

... when the Democrats take the White House, Republican reaction to government is rather severe -- more severe than among Democrats when a Republican president takes the White House.

How interesting. Now, why would that be? Kohut told NPR:

I think because basically Republicans are the party of small government, and there's great fears that the Democratic president is going to be too activist.

Except that, according to the Pew page, it's just the opposite:

Republicans' views of government change more dramatically, depending on which party holds power, than do Democrats'. Republicans are more trusting of government when the GOP holds power than Democrats are when the Democrats are in charge.

Look at the chart: Democrats are grumpy under Republicans and a little less grumpy under Democrats. Republicans are grumpy under Democrats (extremely so right now) and not grumpy at all under Republicans, especially non-Poppy Bush Republicans:

So Pew's low numbers are explained partly by the times, partly by what the Democrats have done ... and partly by the fact that GOP voters are sulking, as they always do, because they lost.

No comments: