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Poll: One-Fifth of Americans Say Government Is Our Nation's Top Problem
James Howard Kunstler

What's worse than inflation? The government trying to help with inflation… or trying to help with anything, really. You know it. I know it. And a whole lot of other Americans may know it, too. In the latest Gallup poll, more than one-fifth of respondents—21 percent—cited the government and/or poor leadership as the nation's top problem.

When it comes to perceived problems, the government and poor leadership beat out inflation (cited by 15 percent of respondents), immigration (11 percent), the economy in general (10 percent), racism/race relations (5 percent), and crime/violence (4 percent).

Viewing government as problematic was a bipartisan affair, too. Government was cited as the most important problem by 24 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in the poll and by 18 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

Conservatives were more likely to say inflation (18 percent of conservatives vs. 11 percent of left-leaning respondents), immigration (18 percent vs. 5 percent), the economy in general (11 percent vs. 9 percent), and moral/ethical/family decline (5 percent vs. 2 percent) were top problems.

Democrats were more likely to cite crime and violence (5 percent vs. 4 percent), unifying the country (8 percent vs. 3 percent), race relations (9 percent vs. 2 percent), the environment (6 percent vs. 0 percent), and the gap between rich and poor (4 percent vs. 0 percent) as our country's top issues.  

A little more than 1,000 adults were included in the poll, which has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Overall, the percentage of people who saw government as the top problem in this latest poll was up 6 percent over Gallup's November-December 2022 poll. The percentage of people citing the economy in general as the top problem shrank by 6 percent.

The latest poll was conducted from January 2–22, a period that "included the four-day, 15-vote process in which Republicans, who now hold a slim majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, ultimately elected Kevin McCarthy to be Speaker of the House," notes Gallup. These weeks also saw "revelations about classified government documents from 2009 to 2017 found in President Joe Biden's private office and home."

But the approval rating for Congress (21 percent) and for Biden (41 percent) remained unchanged since the prior Gallup poll late last year.

Check out the complete poll responses (alongside historical responses) here.

Government often ranks high among poll respondents' list of grievances. Last August and September, between 20 and 22 percent cited the government as the top issue.


Elizabeth Nolan Brown is a senior editor at Reason and the main author of Reason's morning newsletter, the Reason Roundup. She is also co-founder of the libertarian feminist group Feminists for Liberty, and a professional affiliate of the journalism program at the University of Cincinnati.

Brown has covered a broad range of political and cultural topics since starting at Reason in 2014, with special emphasis on the politics, policy, and legal issues surrounding sex, speech, tech, justice, reproductive freedom, and women's rights. She can be found frequently reporting and opining on topics such as sex work, social media, antitrust law, abortion, feminism, the First Amendment, policing, and Section 230. A few of her more memorable Reason features include a trio of cover stories on the federal government's war on sex ("The War on Sex Trafficking Is the New War on Drugs," "American Sex Police," and "Massage Parlor Panic"), a political profile of Kamala Harris ("Kamala Harris Is a Cop Who Wants to Be President"), a deep dive into the prosecution of the founders of, and a look at "The Bipartisan Antitrust Crusade Against Big Tech."

Brown's work has also been published by The New York Times, the Los Angeles TimesBuzzfeedThe Daily BeastPoliticoPlayboyPersuasionFox NewsNewsweekTIMEThe DishThe WeekSpectator she wrote the Encyclopedia of Libertarianism entry on sex work), and numerous other outlets.

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