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Pandemic hasn't much changed Americans' trust in gov't: Survey

By
Don Jacobson
President Joe Biden, shown in Washington on April 21, touts the federal government's success in rolling out 200 million COVID-19 vaccinations. File photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Pool
President Joe Biden, shown in Washington on April 21, touts the federal government's success in rolling out 200 million COVID-19 vaccinations. File photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Pool | License Photo

May 17 (UPI) -- A year after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans' trust in the federal government remains low and attitudes about its responsibilities are little changed, a surveyed showed Monday.

During the pandemic, the federal government under presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden has led unprecedented efforts to distribute vaccines and send out trillions of dollars in COVID-19 relief -- one of the biggest expansions of Washington's role in the lives of Americans since World War II.

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However, that has not translated into more trust for the government, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

It found that only about one-quarter of Americans (24%) say they trust the federal government to do what is right just about always or most of the time.

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That's similar to recent years, but the latest results show a quickly widening partisan gap over the issue of trust in government following Biden's victory over Trump, the pollsters said.

The share of Democrats who say they trust the government just about always or most of the time has increased substantially since before the 2020 presidential election -- more than a third (36%) now say this, compared with 12% in August 2020.

Conversely, Republicans' trust in government has sharply declined over the same period, from 28% of Republicans and Republican leaners to just 9% today.

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Meanwhile, the experience of the pandemic has also not much changed Americans' attitudes regarding what's appropriate for the federal government to do. While most continue to say Washington has a responsibility to provide some kinds of support and services, the needle hasn't moved much in other areas.

For instance, in August 2020, 59% of Americans said the government should do more to solve problems. Today, 55% hold this view, while 44% say the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.

One of the few noticeable changes concerned attitudes about access to high-speed Internet. There, the share of Americans saying the government has a responsibility to provide it has surged by 15 percentage points since September 2019 (from 28% to 43%).

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The Pew Research Center survey was conducted April 5-11 among a nationally representative sample of 5,109 adults who are members of its American Trends Panel.

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January 31, 2020
National Institutes of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci (C) speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar (L) announced that the United States is declaring the virus a public health emergency and issued a federal quarantine order of 14 days for 195 Americans. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

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