A year after the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans’ confidence in the federal government remains strong, with no improvement in attitudes about its obligations, according to a survey released on Monday.
During the pandemic, Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden oversaw unparalleled attempts to deliver vaccines and send trillions of dollars of COVID-19 aid – one of the most significant extensions of Washington’s involvement in Americans’ lives since World War II.
However, that has not translated into more trust for the government, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
It found that only about one-quarter of Americans (24%) say they trust the federal government to do what is right just about always or most of the time.
This is close to previous years, but the pollsters say the new figures indicate a rapidly widening partisan divide on the topic of confidence in government following Biden’s victory over Trump.
The proportion of Democrats who claim they trust the government almost always or much of the time has risen significantly since before the 2020 presidential election; more than a third (36%) now say this, up from 12% in August 2020.
Republicans’ confidence in government, on the other hand, has plummeted during the same time frame, falling from 28 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners to just 9 percent today.
Meanwhile, the experience of the pandemic has also not much changed Americans’ attitudes regarding what’s appropriate for the federal government to do. While most continue to say Washington has a responsibility to provide some kinds of support and services, the needle hasn’t moved much in other areas.
In August 2020, for example, 59 percent of Americans said the government should do more to fix issues. Still, 55% believe this, while 44% believe the government is doing so many activities that should be left to corporations and individuals.
One of the few notable shifts concerned views towards high-speed Internet connectivity. Since September 2019, the share of Americans who believe the government has a duty to provide it has increased by 15 percentage points (from 28 percent to 43 percent ).
The Pew Research Center polled a nationally representative sample of 5,109 adults from its American Trends Panel from April 5 to 11.