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Poll: Trust in executive branch at low point for Obama administration

It's not quite at the Watergate level yet -- 43 percent of U.S. adults say they trust the executive branch, while 40 percent did so during Richard Nixon's last months as president.

By
Frances Burns
Trust in the U.S. executive branch has dropped to its lowest point in President Obama's tenure, a Gallup poll released Monday reported. UPI/Shawn Thew/Pool
Trust in the U.S. executive branch has dropped to its lowest point in President Obama's tenure, a Gallup poll released Monday reported. UPI/Shawn Thew/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Trust in the U.S. executive branch has dropped to its lowest point in President Obama's tenure, a Gallup poll released Monday reported.

Only 43 percent of those surveyed for Gallup's annual Governance poll said they trust the executive branch. That matches the numbers during the last two years of President George W. Bush's administration and is close to the all-time low of 40 percent in April 1974, when President Richard Nixon was mired in Watergate.

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The poll found that Congress maintains its standing as the least trusted of the three branches of government. Only 28 percent trust the legislative branch, a new low point.

Members of both major parties tend to distrust Congress -- 35 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Democrats. Among independents 23 percent said they trusted Congress.

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As might be expected, political partisans tend to trust the executive branch more when their party holds the presidency. While 83 percent of Democrats trust the executive branch, that is down from a high of 95 percent in the first year of the Obama administration, while only 14 percent trusted the executive in the final days of Bush's presidency.

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One-third of Republicans said they trust the executive and 37 percent of independents. Independents in recent years have tended to distrust the executive no matter which party is in power.

The high points for the executive were in 1972 when Nixon was re-elected in a landslide, and in 2002, soon after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. More than 70 percent of respondents told Gallup in those years that they trusted the executive.

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Obama had the trust of 61 percent immediately after he took office.

The Supreme Court remains the most trusted of the three branches of government. But even there, the 61 percent who told Gallup they trust the judicial branch is a new low.

Gallup interviewed 1,017 adults by telephone between Sept. 4 and Sept. 7. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.

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