Poll: Most say major changes are needed in US government

Poll: Most say major changes are needed in US government
© Greg Nash

Most Americans in a new poll say major structural changes are needed to shake up the U.S. government, with most citing its mishandling of key issues.

A new survey by the University of Chicago Harris School for Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveals that 54 percent of respondents believe the government needs major changes and 12 percent believe the system should be completely replaced. Another 32 percent say that either no or only minor changes are needed. 

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Political independents are about twice as likely as Democrats and Republicans to say the entire U.S. governmental system needs replacing (22 percent compared to 11 percent and 8 percent, respectively). About 61 percent of Democratic respondents, and 52 percent of Republican ones, want major changes. 

Most respondents — about 70 percent — said they feel they have too little power and influence in Washington. 

The dissatisfaction with Washington stems largely from the public’s view that significant issues are being mishandled, according to the poll results. Majorities of respondents believe that the government is ineffectively tackling reducing income inequality (73 percent), addressing climate change (62 percent), ensuring access to health care (61 percent) and reducing crime (54 percent).

“The poll reveals that voters do not trust government to follow through, and it’s not meeting their expectations. This lack of trust and lack of performance relates to larger concerns about the state of American democracy,” said William Howell, Professor of American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

However, lack of faith in Washington could open up opportunities for presidential candidates to address voters’ concerns ahead of the 2020 race.

“While Americans broadly think that government should play an active role in attending to our nation’s challenges—including terrorism, promoting economic and job growth, addressing climate change, and improving access to health care—few voters are satisfied with its performance. There’s a real opening here for political candidates to address people’s desire for systemic change,” Howell said. 

The poll surveyed 1,003 adults from March 14-18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.