63% say they have a favorable opinion of their local government, virtually unchanged over recent years. And 57% express a favorable view of their state government – a five-point uptick from last year. By contrast, just 28% rate the federal government in Washington favorably. That is down five points from a year ago and the lowest percentage ever in a Pew Research Center survey.
While Republicans (I used to be one, way back when) have always held Washington in low regards, the Democrats are getting on board:
The percentage of Democrats expressing a favorable opinion of the federal government has declined 10 points in the past year, from 51% to 41%. For the first time since Barack Obama became president, more Democrats say they have an unfavorable view of the federal government in Washington than a favorable view (51% unfavorable vs. 41% favorable).
Republicans’ opinion is in the tank:
Favorable opinions of the federal government among Republicans, already quite low in 2012 (20% favorable), have fallen even further, to 13% currently.
Here’s more that’s interesting: the closer people are to their government, the better they like it:
Nearly identical percentages of Democrats (56%), Republicans (57%) and independents (59%) have a favorable opinion of their state’s government. Similarly, local governments receive positive ratings from 67% of Democrats, 63% of Republicans and 60% of independents.
This is how it was supposed to be. The “national” government was supposed to be very small, managed and run by part-time members of congress. States were to have fairly minimal responsibilities in keeping things civil, while the action was at the local level. The pyramid has been turned upside down.
There’s much more to the study than I can review here: state budgets and more on the decline in faith in Washington. But the point is well made: the bigger, more corrupt and distant Washington becomes, the less it is liked and respected. All governments rule by credibility. When any government loses that, it loses its ability to govern. As I said, this can’t be a bad thing.