Shrinking budgets and bipartisan politics have not shaken the trust Americans have in local governments–finds a recent Gallup Poll. However, in western states such as California, that trust is a little less bulletproof.
Nearly 67% of Americans have confidence their local elected leaders can handle local problems. State lawmakers also enjoyed the trust and confidence of their constituents until 2009, when shrinking budgets prompted tough decisions in states across the US. This led to a sharp dip in the approval ratings of state lawmakers, especially in western states like California.
Even though state governments have seen a shaking of confidence, it is nothing compared to the historic lack of faith Americans have in several aspects of the federal government.
Only 33% of Americans say they have solid confidence in Congress—and just 5% say their confidence is great.
As for the president, confidence fell annually during George W. Bush’s presidency from 2002 to 2008—then surged a in 2009, after President Barack Obama was sworn in—but has since edged down.
California Forward believes government should be closer to the people, because it is at the local level that citizens are best able to hold their elected leaders accountable and engage with the process.
California Forward wants local governments to use the public’s faith and trust to take more control of decisions that have wide ranging impacts at the community level, and be open and accountable to their constituents as a way of keeping that trust.
At the state level, a commitment to stabilizing our budget process and bringing sanity back to our financial choices will go a long way toward rebuilding voter trust.
This Gallup poll was conducted by phone interviews over a four day period in early September, with a random sample of adults aged 18 and older, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Cheryl Getuiza is communications specialist with California Forward.