Americans trust local government more than state
Continuing a trend of more than a decade, in 2014 Americans continued to trust their local governments more than their state governments.
According to a Gallup poll, 72 percent of Americans have high levels of trust in their local governments, while 62 percent have high levels of trust in their state governments. These figures are relatively unchanged from last year, and are off only a few percentage points from historical averages. Gallup reports that since 2001 local government has consistently been trusted more than state. The record low for local government trust (63 percent) occurred in 1972, and a record high (77 percent) was achieved in 1998, amid the national economic boom.
Trust in state government has been more varied and tied to economic downturns, Gallup reports. A sharp decline occurred from 1999, when trust in state government was at a record high of 80 percent, to 2003 when trust plunged to 53 percent. Trust in state government continued to bump along through hills and valleys during the recession as states struggled to pass budgets.
Gallup found that Republicans are more likely to trust state governments than Democrats and Independents – 73 percent compared to 59 percent. Since 1997 Republicans have typically expressed more confidence in state government than their counterparts in other parties, with exceptions in 2005 and 2010 when they tied with Democrats. Partisan disparities have grown wider in the recent years, however.
Republicans are also more likely to trust their local governments, at even higher levels than state, according to Gallup. This year 81 percent of Republicans expressed a great deal of trust in their local governments, similar to previous highs in 1998. This level of trust was expressed by 70 percent of both Democrats and Independents.
These results were based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 4-7, 2014 with a random sample of 1,017 adults living in all 50 states and Washington D.C., according to Gallup.