Gallup: Illinois Residents Least Trusting of Their State Officials

Saturday, 05 Apr 2014 10:46 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Residents of President Barack Obama's home state of Illinois trust their state government less than citizens of any other state, a new Gallup poll has found.

Residents of North Dakota, Wyoming, and Utah have the most trust in their governments' ability to address their problems, according to the survey.

Only 28 percent of the 600 Illinois residents surveyed by Gallup reported that they trusted their state government "a great deal" or "a fair amount," the organization said.

That compared with 77 percent of North Dakotans, 76 percent of residents in Wyoming and 75 percent of those living in Utah.

The results were from Gallup's first attempt at measuring such trust levels on a state-by-state basis. The survey was conducted June 27 to Dec. 4 last year and involved 600 residents randomly selected in each state in the nation.

The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Gallup, founded in 1935, previously measured state-government trust on a national basis. The latest poll, conducted last September, found that 62 percent of all Americans had great deal or fair amount of trust in their state government.

"Trust is generally higher in states in the upper Midwest and Plains states, and the northern Mountain region states," Gallup said in its analysis. "In general, trust is lower in more-populous states than in less-populous states."

Regarding the Illinois results, Gallup concluded that they were "not surprising, given that its last two governors, Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan, were sentenced to jail for crimes committed while in office."

Two other governors, Democrats Dan Walker and Otto Kerner, also served jail time for crimes committed while serving in Springfield. Walker was governor from 1973 to 1977, while Kerner served from 1961 to 1968. Blagojevich was also a Democrat, while Ryan was a Republican.

In addition, "the Illinois economy remains shaky and the state government continues to struggle to balance the budget, even after a significant income tax increase a few years ago," Gallup added. "That tax hike is set to expire, but [Gov. Pat Quinn] is pushing to make it permanent.

"Last year, the state also passed controversial pension reforms for state workers that are being challenged in court."

Rounding out the top five states with the least-trusting residents were Rhode Island and Maine, with 40 percent each; Pennsylvania, with 46 percent; and Louisiana, with 48 percent.

On the plus side, Gallup found that 74 percent of South Dakotans had faith in their state governments, as do 73 percent of those who live in Nebraska.

"Trust in government is a key commodity for a democratic government to function well," Gallup concluded. "Voters must believe that those they elect to public office will act in the best interests of the citizens, and elected leaders who do not engender their constituents' trust will likely not serve for long."

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