WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- More than half of Americans believe "ordinary" people can do a better job than elected officials at solving national problems, a survey released Monday by the Pew Research Center indicates.
About 19 percent of people said they can trust the government always or most of the time -- among the lowest levels in decades. Twenty percent believe government programs are run well, according to the Beyond Distrust: How Americans View Their Government report.
Some 74 percent of people believe most elected officials put their own interest ahead of the country's, and 72 percent would describe elected officials "well" or "fairly well" as selfish while 48 percent would describe them as lazy.
Twenty-nine percent of people would describe elected officials as honest, but 67 percent would describe them as intelligent and 63 percent as patriotic.
Whenever the economy performs well, trust in the government increases -- but the downward trend is not eliminated.
Public trust reached a 30-year high after the Sept. 11 attacks with an average of 54 percent in late October 2001, but confidence soon declined. Since 2007, the amount of people who say they trust the government has not surpassed 30 percent.
"Perhaps the most withering critique of elected officials is the belief -- shared by a majority of the public -- that 'ordinary Americans' could do a better job than they could of solving the nation's problems," Pew Research Center writes in the report. "Most Americans [56 percent] acknowledge that the problems facing the country do not have clear solutions."
Among the positive views of the government, about 72 percent of people believe the government is doing a good job of keeping the country safe from attacks, 79 percent said the government responds well to natural disasters and 72 percent said the government ensures safe food and medicine -- all issues which those surveyed believe the government should play a major role in.
People said the federal government's worst performance is in managing the immigration system, with 28 percent of people believing the government is doing a good job. Thirty-six percent said the government does a good job of getting people out of poverty while 48 percent believe the government ensures proper basic income for people 65 and older.
About 57 percent of people said they are "frustrated" with the government, whereas 22 percent said they are "angry" and 18 percent said they are "basically content."
The record amount of anger was seen two years ago during the partial government shutdown, where 30 percent of people said they were "angry."
"There is bipartisan agreement that the federal government should play a major role in dealing with terrorism, natural disasters, food and medicine safety, and roads and infrastructure," Pew Research Center writes. "And while the presidential campaign has exposed sharp partisan divisions over immigration policy, large majorities of both Republicans [85 percent] and Democrats [80 percent] say the government should have a major role in managing the immigration system."
Pew Research Center conducted more than 6,000 interviews between late August and early October to obtain the results.