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7 in 10 Americans have negative views of federal government

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Staff Writer | August 25, 2017
Less than a third of U.S. adults currently say they view the federal government in a favorable light.
Donald Trump
America   Views were most positive in 2003
The latest 29% who say they view the government "very" or "somewhat" positively is among the highest ratings recorded since 2009, up from the 17% recorded in 2011 and 23% in 2014.

These current views of the federal government were recorded in an August 2-6 Gallup poll.

Views were most positive in 2003, the first year Gallup asked this question, most likely reflecting a continuation of Americans' post-9/11 "rally" around their government.

Despite the slight rise in positive attitudes seen over the past few years, Americans remain much more likely to have "somewhat" or "very" negative views of the federal government (52% this year), while about one in five are neutral (19%).

Negative views of the government have outweighed positive views in all but Gallup's first poll in 2003.

From a comparative perspective, the federal government maintains the lowest positive rating of any of the 25 business or industry sectors tested in the August survey, ranking slightly below the pharmaceutical industry's 33%.

Throughout the first 14 years that Gallup tracked these general attitudes toward the federal government, Republicans and Democrats held significantly different views, directly related to the party of the president.

During the George W. Bush years, Republicans were more positive; during the Obama years, Democrats were more positive. The two groups' positive ratings have differed by at least 11 percentage points in all polls since 2003.

As expected, given the change from a Democratic to a Republican president, Democrats' positive views of the federal government have dropped 17 points from last year's 45%, while Republicans' positive views have increased by 21 points since 2016.

These changes are similar to the shifts seen in 2009 when Obama became president, although in the opposite direction.