Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nothing to see here

A question very similar to the one I discussed in my last post--"The federal government controls too much of our daily lives"--has been asked in the United States fairly often beginning in 1987 (most often in the Pew surveys).  The figure shows average opinion with completely agree as 4, somewhat agree as 3, somewhat disagree as 2, and completely disagree as 1.

There's not much pattern.  The lowest scores occurred in Nov 2001 and July 2002, presumably as a reaction to 9-11, which was followed by a general rise in  support for the government.  There may have been more distrust in the early 1990s, which as I've mentioned before, seemed to have an anti-government mood (for no obvious reason).  However, I'm not sure that's statistically significant, and most of the ups and downs are small enough to be the result of sampling variation.  Average levels of agreement are the same regardless of the party of the President, The two most recent scores are about the same as the scores in the late 1990s, which was a period of prosperity and if not exactly good feeling (there was the attempt to impeach Bill Clinton), at least less acrimony than we have now.

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