November 5, 2007

Declining Confidence in Political Wisdom of Americans

57%

That’s the proportion of Americans who say they have a good deal of confidence in the wisdom of the American people when it comes to making political decisions, a seven-point decline from the number who expressed that view a decade ago, and a steep 20-point decline from the 1960s.

While confidence in government has increased modestly in recent years, the public is increasingly suspicious of itself; in the most recent Pew Values Survey, fewer than six-in-ten (57%) say they have a good deal of confidence in the wisdom of the American people when it comes to making political decisions, a seven-point decline over the past decade and a much steeper 20-point decline since 1964. In 1997, Democrats had expressed more confidence than either Republicans or independents in the political wisdom of the American people. Today they have less confidence: 56% of Democrats say they have “a very great deal” or a “good deal” of confidence in the judgment of the people, down 13 percentage points from 1997. At the same time, 60% of Republicans and 59% of independents express high levels of confidence in the American people’s political judgments, which are comparable to levels of a decade ago. Read More