Gallup: Government dysfunction seen as nation's No. 1 problem

Government dysfunction has displaced the economy as the most pressing problem facing the nation, according to respondents in a new Gallup poll.

Thirty-three percent of people in a Gallup survey released Wednesday said dissatisfaction with government and elected officials is the nation’s No. 1 problem, the highest percentage since Gallup began collecting trend data in 1939.

It’s also the first time since the early days of the financial crisis in October 2008 that the economy hasn’t ranked as the top worry in the Gallup survey.

ADVERTISEMENT
The shift is likely a result of the government shutdown, which is now well into its second week, and the related fight over the debt ceiling.

Nineteen percent of respondents in the poll cited the economy as the country’s biggest problem. Unemployment, the deficit and healthcare tied for third place at 12 percent each.

The percentage of respondents who mentioned the government as the country’s top problem has more than doubled since last month, from 16 percent, which almost certainly reflects the public’s frustration with the showdown in Washington.

The survey was conducted in the midst of the first government shutdown in 17 years, and ahead of the looming deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit.

Lawmakers are showing no sign of ending their stalemate, with both sides digging in their heels.

During the last government shutdown in January 1996, the percentage of Americans who said dysfunctional government was the nation’s most pressing problem also rose, but only to 17 percent. At the time, respondents were more likely to mention the budget and deficit (28 percent) as the top concern.