Just a few short weeks after the latest U.S. Congress was sworn in, Gallup finds concerns about the government are on the rise. File photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 30 (UPI) -- It's not consumer-level inflation or even the economy in general that U.S. voters said they were worried about the most, rather it's the very government they elected that is most concerning, a survey published Monday by Gallup showed.
The 118th Congress took power Jan. 3. Despite early-year expectations of a so-called Red Wave, Republicans managed to gain only a slim majority in the House of Representatives. A victory for Pennsylvania's former lieutenant governor John Fetterman over celebrity physician Mehmet Oz, meanwhile, helped Democrats secure a razor-thin, one-seat majority in the Senate.
Michael Traugott, research professor emeritus at the University of Michigan's Center for Political Studies, told UPI at the time that a divided government can prove difficult.
"In the last six to eight months, Congress was very successful in passing new legislation," he said. "I hope people didn't take that as optimism for the future. I believe we're in for a rough period."
Optimism is scarce, Gallup found. Asked which was the most important problem facing the United States, 21% of the survey respondents told pollsters it was the government or poor leadership, up from the 15% recorded between November and December.
Inflation, immigration, the economy in general and national unity rounded out the top five, with only concerns about immigration increasing over the latest survey period.
Concerns about the government, meanwhile, are common despite party affiliation. Of those who identified as Republican or Republican-leaning, 24% said the government was the problem, while 18% expressed similar concerns from across the aisle.
Gallup results could reflect a bit of scapegoating as the sentiment on the national economy is low, with only 2% of those surveyed saying the economy was in "excellent" shape. In total, 72% said the economy was getting worse, despite signs that inflationary pressures are easing.
"Americans' mentions of the government as the nation's most important problem have risen significantly in the past month, while inflation remains the next most-cited issue," Gallup found. "Fewer name the economy in general, yet when asked about the economy directly, Americans continue to lack confidence in its current and future health."
One bright spot, both in real terms and in terms of voter sentiment, was the job market. Gallup found that 64% of the respondents said now was a good time to find a job. U.S. residents filing for unemployment benefits for the first time reached a seasonally adjusted 186,000 for the week ending Jan. 14, dropping under 200,000 for the second week in a row.
Gallup surveyed 1,011 voting-age adults between Jan. 2 and Jan. 22. The results have a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.