WashPost Poll: 70% Say Politicians Focus on Wrong Things

Thursday, 11 Aug 2011 10:24 AM

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Seven in 10 Americans believe that politicians are “mostly focused on the wrong things,” a belief that members of both parties share, a new Washington Post poll shows.

On the other hand, 77 percent of Americans still agree with the statement “whatever its faults, the United States still has the best system of government in the world,” unchanged from October 2010, according to the Aug. 9 poll of 601 adults.

However, members of the two parties point the finger at each other, with two-thirds of Republicans saying the government is focused on the wrong things because of President Barack Obama and nearly as many Democrats blaming the GOP. A plurality of independents, 43 percent, says both sides are at fault, the Post reported.

Just 1 in 4 Americans have faith in the government’s ability to fix the nation’s economic problems, the poll found. Confidence in President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans’ ability to make the right decisions about the economy also has dropped dramatically.

Just 26 percent have even some faith the government can solve problems, and confidence has dropped 21 points from October 2010. Obama is down double digits from January, and confidence in the GOP has been cut in half. Confidence in Obama’s ability to make the right decision about the economy is now at 33 percent, down from 43 percent. Confidence in congressional Republicans, at 35 percent in January, is now at 18 percent, the poll showed.

The poll revealed an “up an upsurge in dissatisfaction with the country’s political system and a widespread sense that S&P’s characterization  of U.S. policymaking as increasingly ‘less stable, less effective and less predictable’ is a fair one.”

“Fully 78 percent of those polled are unhappy with the country’s political system, up significantly from two years ago,” the poll found. “Now, nearly half — 45 percent — are ‘very dissatisfied.’ Dissatisfaction crosses party lines, with intense unhappiness peaking among independents, more than half of whom report being very dissatisfied.”

The S&P’s recent description of federal policymaking as increasingly “less stable, less effective and less predictable” was found accurate by 71 percent, and 52 percent agreed that the downgrade of the country’s bond rating was fair.

The poll also found that just 17 percent of Americans think their representative should be re-elected in 2012.

“These are notably low,” MIT political scientist Charles Stewart told the Post. Congress might have been less popular during the days leading up to the Civil War, or during the political upheavals of the 1880s and 1890s, he said. However, the Post noted that Congress has never been rated lower since the advent of public polling.


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