Trust: Is a Trust Gap opening between state and local leaders?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Trust
WE TRUST THESE FOLKS MOST OF ALL! At least that's what Gallup's new polling shows. Americans trust local officials more than national- and state-level officials. This Town Hall is in Munroe Falls, Ohio. (In public domain via Wikimedia Commons.)

WE TRUST THESE FOLKS MOST OF ALL! At least that’s what Gallup’s new polling shows. Americans trust local officials more than national- and state-level officials. This Town Hall is in Munroe Falls, Ohio. (In public domain via Wikimedia Commons.)

Americans are losing trust and confidence in just about every institution—and even in the American people. (Take a look at Monday’s Part 1 in this series for more on that.)

Are there any institutions that Americans trust? For example, how much trust and confidence do you have in your state government—or in your local government?

The answer to these questions is fascinating because we are seeing a Trust Gap opening between those two levels. Americans apparently discern a real difference between their state capitol and their town hall.

Consider these attitudes Gallup recorded toward state officials: About six of ten Americans (62%) have a great deal or a fair amount of trust and confidence in their state governments to handle state problems, according to a new Gallup poll. Over the years, the level of trust in state governments has been volatile. Recently, there’s a downward trend. But, it’s surprising to find that the current level of trust and confidence in state governments is the same as Americans reported in a 1972 Gallup poll.

And how do we view our town halls? About seven of ten Americans (71%) have a great deal or a fair amount of trust and confidence in their local governments to handle local issues. Trust in local governments has been higher and lower in the past, but trust in local institutions doesn’t waver much over the years.

How does trust in state and local governments compare? I did a little arithmetic with Gallup’s numbers and found an interesting pattern: a Trust Gap. Americans used to have similar levels of trust in state and local governments, but in recent years there’s been a growing gap—Americans trust in local institutions is pretty stable, but trust in state governments is declining.

How much trust and confidence do you have in your state government to handle state-level problems?

How much trust and confidence do you have in your local government to handle local problems?

What accounts for the Trust Gap?

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