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Record number of Americans name government as most important problem

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Staff Writer | February 18, 2019
Donald Trump
America   About half of Americans blame both parties

Thirty-five percent of Americans name the government, poor leadership or politicians as the greatest problem facing the U.S.

This is the highest percentage Gallup has recorded for this concern, edging out the previous high of 33% during the 2013 federal government shutdown.

The latest update is from a Feb. 1-10 Gallup Poll.

Gallup has asked Americans what they felt was the most important problem facing the country since 1939 and has regularly compiled mentions of the government since 1964.

Prior to 2001, the highest percentage mentioning government was 26% during the Watergate scandal. Thus, the current measure is the highest in at least 55 years.

The current percentage of Americans naming government as the most important problem is nearly twice as high as the 18% recorded in November.

That increase likely reflects public frustration with the government shutdown that occurred from late December through most of January. Gallup observed a similar double-digit spike spanning the 2013 government shutdown, from 16% in September 2013 to 33% in October 2013.

Americans have different things in mind when they name the government as the most important problem.

An analysis of the verbatim responses to the question from the latest survey finds that 11% of Americans specifically cite "Donald Trump" as the most important problem, while 5% name "the Democrats" or "liberals" and 1% "Congress."

About half of those who say the government is the most important problem - 18% of U.S. adults - blame both parties or cite "gridlock," "lack of cooperation" or the shutdown more generally. The latter figure has grown from 6% in December and 12% in January.


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