Gallup has asked Americans what they felt was the most important problem facing the country since 1939. Prior to 2001, the highest percentage mentioning government was 26% during the Watergate scandal.
Not only is distrust of government at an all-time high in the recent Gallup poll. But very few problems have ever registered such a high percentage of mentions under the ‘greatest problem’ category.’
Since 2001, few issues have matched or exceeded the 35% currently mentioning the government.
“In the immediate months after the 9/11 attacks, mentions of terrorism topped the list as the most important problem, peaking at 46% in October 2001.”
Iraq was named as the biggest problem by 38% of respondents as U.S. involvement in Iraq escalated in 2007.
“In the year leading up to and after the global financial crisis of 2008, the percentage of Americans naming “the economy” reached record heights for any mention on Gallup’s list, reaching 58% in November 2008.” (And mentions of unemployment/jobs as the greatest problem peaked at 39% in September 2011, in the wake of the financial crisis.)
Additionally, both Democrats and Republicans are now naming government as the greatest problem in their lives at roughly the same percentages.