HPU Poll: Trust in Federal Government is Low

Sep 08th, 2022

HPU Poll: Trust in Federal Government is Low

Poll finds North Carolinians trust the military and small businesses the most.


HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 8, 2022 – Most North Carolinians (51%) only trust the government in Washington, D.C., some of the time, according to a new High Point University Poll.

Only 8% of North Carolina residents said they almost always trust the government to do what is right. Nearly one out of five (19%) said they trust the federal government most of the time, while 23% said they never trust it.

North Carolinians were also asked to think about how much they trust other government institutions. Less than one-third (31%) of North Carolina residents said they have a great deal of trust in the military, followed by 21% who said they have a great deal of trust in small business, 19% who said that about the church or organized religion, 18% who said the same of the police and 17% who said they have a great deal of trust in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Less than 15% of North Carolinians said they have a great deal of trust in the medical system, followed by their trust in banks (14%), the public schools (14%), the U.S. Supreme Court (13%), the Internal Revenue Service (11%), or the presidency (11%).

Less than 10% of North Carolina respondents said they have a great deal of trust in the criminal justice system, organized labor (8%), public opinion polls (8%), newspapers (8%), television news (8%), Congress (7%) and big business (6%).

North Carolinians did not show much trust in each other. A little more than a quarter of them (28%) said most people can be trusted while almost three-quarters (72%) said you need to be careful in dealing with people.

“The HPU Poll tested how North Carolinians have different ideas about the government in Washington,” said Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct instructor. “And this poll shows that a majority of respondents trust the government in Washington only some of the time.”

HPU Poll Trust in the Government

NC residents – Trust in DC Government (August 2022)

People have different ideas about the government in Washington. These ideas don’t refer to Democrats or Republicans in particular, but just to government in general. We want to see how you feel about these ideas.

How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right– just about always, most of the time or only some of the time?

Just about always – 8%

Most of the time – 19%

Only some of the time – 51%

None of the time – 23%

(Online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Aug. 18 – Aug. 25, 2022, n = 1002 and credibility interval is +/- 3.2%)

 

NC residents – Trust in People (August 2022)

Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you need to be very careful in dealing with people?

Most people can be trusted – 28%

Need to be very careful – 72%

(Online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Aug. 18 – Aug. 25, 2022, n = 1002 and credibility interval is +/- 3.2%)

 

NC residents – Trust in American Institutions (August 2022)

Here is a list of institutions in American society. Please indicate how much trust you have in each one — a great deal, quite a lot, some or very little?  (PRESENTED IN RANDOMIZED ORDER)

Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little
The military 31 31 29 10
Small business 21 42 30 8
The Church or organized religion 19 23 33 26
The police 18 30 32 20
Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI 17 23 31 29
The medical system 15 34 36 15
Banks 14 29 42 15
The public schools 14 26 42 19
The U.S. Supreme Court 13 22 35 30
The Internal Revenue Service or IRS 11 18 37 33
The presidency 11 15 33 42
The criminal justice system 10 18 39 33
Organized labor 8 20 47 25
Newspapers 8 18 43 30
Public opinion polls 8 15 49 28
Television news 8 14 43 35
Congress 7 9 40 44
Big business 6 14 45 35

(Online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Aug. 18 – Aug. 25, 2022, n = 1002 and credibility interval is +/- 3.2%)

 

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by the High Point University Survey Research Center on Aug. 18 through Aug. 25, 2022, as an online survey using a panel of respondents recruited and maintained by Dynata. Dynata sent invitations to its panel of NC respondents and the SRC collected responses on its Qualtrics platform. The SRC did all data analysis. The online sample is from a panel of respondents, and their participation does not adhere to usual assumptions associated with random selection. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assign a classic margin of sampling error for the results. In this case, the SRC provides a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points to account for a traditional 95% confidence interval for the estimates (plus or minus 3.1 percentage points) and a design effect of 1.04 (based on the weighting). The data is weighted toward population estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity and education based on U.S. Census numbers for North Carolina. Factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional errors into the findings of opinion polls. Details from this survey are available here.

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website. The materials online include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

The HPU Poll reports methodological details in accordance with the standards set out by AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, and the HPU Survey Research Center is a Charter Member of the Initiative. See more information here.

You can follow the HPU Poll Twitter here.

Dr. Martin Kifer, chair and associate professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald is the associate director of the HPU Poll.