With the government shutdown ensuing, Americans are now more likely to name dysfunctional government over the economy as the most important problem facing the country, with grave implications for both parties. A majority of Americans — 60 percent — say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed.
This measurement is the highest Gallup has seen in the 10-year history of this question. A new low of 26% believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans. But that is not the only first in Gallup history, either. A new high — 33 percent — name dysfunctional government as the nation’s top issue, which is also the highest percentage in Gallup’s trend dating back to 1939.
Sadly, the data does suggest that Americans had already to begun to give up on the economic outlook, resolving to the fact that perhaps the economy will just not improve. Americans’ likelihood to say that the economy in general or jobs in particular was the nation’s top problem had already been declining in 2013.
Likewise, during the last government shutdown in January of 1996, Americans also began to increasingly report that dysfunctional government was the nation’s top problem, but it rose only to 17 percent, which is roughly half the level we see now.
In both measurements we see a divide among partisan preference, with Democrats — 36 percent — being more inclined to name government dysfunction as the nation’s top issue, to just 23 percent of Republicans. On the other hand, Republicans and independents are more likely to say there is a need for a third party.
Aside from the American people giving up on the economic outlook, which is currently a bleak one under President Obama, none of this seems to be particularly surprising considering two factors. First, party favorables are at all-time lows.
The Republican Party has seen its favorables fall to an all-time low, with just 28 percent viewing the Grand Ole Party in a good light. Furthermore, independents are typically closer in line with Republicans on issues and concerns for a reason, because many of them are — or were — Republicans who are now fed up with the party. The party, itself, is clearing undergoing a change, which will have a far-reaching impact on perception for both parties.
For the time, more than 6 in 10 Americans — 62 percent — now view the Republican Party unfavorably, which again, is a record high. Comparatively, nearly half of Americans — 49 percent — view the Democratic Party unfavorably.
Second, right-track/wrong-track or direction of country polling, was never especially impressive during Obama’s tenure. However, we are seeing a real plummet recently in public opinion. Consider the table below, and I will let it speak for itself.
|Poll||Date||Right Direction||Wrong Track||Spread|
|PPD Average||9/20 – 10/9||18.5||73.5||-55.0|
|NBC News/Wall St. Jrnl||10/7 – 10/9||14||78||-64|
|Reuters/Ipsos||10/4 – 10/8||15||68||-53|
|The Economist/YouGov||10/5 – 10/7||18||73||-55|
|Associated Press/GfK||10/3 – 10/7||22||78||-56|
|Rasmussen Reports||9/30 – 10/6||17||76||-59|
|Reuters/Ipsos||9/27 – 10/1||24||60||-36|
|The Economist/YouGov||9/28 – 9/30||25||65||-40|
|Rasmussen Reports||9/23 – 9/29||28||63||-35|