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About half of Republicans (51%) trusted government compared with just 25% of Democrats.As Bush began his second term in 2005, trust in government continued to be deeply divided along partisan lines.In a Pew Research Center survey conducted in September 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, 49% of Republicans and just 19% of Democrats said they could trust the federal government.

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Republicans express much higher levels of trust during Republican than during Democratic presidencies, while Democrats’ attitudes tend to be more consistent, regardless of which party controls the White House. Bush’s presidency, 47% of Republicans, on average, said they could trust the federal government just about always or most of the time.

During Obama’s presidency, average trust among Republicans has fallen to 13% – by far the lowest level of average trust among either party during any administration dating back to the 1960s.

Within a decade – a period that included the Vietnam War, civil unrest and the Watergate scandal – trust had fallen by more than half, to 36%.

By the end of the 1970s, only about a quarter of Americans felt that they could trust the government at least most of the time.

But the rise in government trust was short-lived – by the summer of 2002, the share saying they could trust the government had tumbled 22 percentage points.

Amid the war in Iraq and economic uncertainty at home, trust in government continued to decline. Since then, the share saying they can trust the federal government has generally fluctuated in a narrow range, between 20% and 25%.

Average trust among Democrats, by contrast, has remained more stable throughout the George W. During the Obama administration, trust among Democrats has averaged 29%, compared with 28% during the Bush administration.

Trust in government – among the public overall, and among both Republicans and Democrats – was much higher during Bush’s first term than his second.

While the falloff in Republican trust in government between the Bush and Obama administrations has been striking, it continues a pattern that has persisted for decades. This compares with 26% average trust among Republicans during Jimmy Carter’s presidency and 25% during Bill Clinton’s.


  1. About half of Republicans (51%) trusted government compared with just 25% of Democrats.

  2. -billion-dollar industry in the United States, expanding at a rate of 5 percent year-over-year between 20.