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    26 May 2006

    Poll indicates people don't trust Repubs

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    A recent Zogby poll has indicated that Americans are more "distrustful than ever of political ... leaders." No one should be surprised by this, but let me take a stab at a theory.

    Let us assume that trust starts at a mid-point and is either eroded or enlarged as time and events come and go. Let it also be true that cycles in power offer a legitimate reference point. And finally let's assume that trust and approval are somewhat related.

    So this recent poll states that
    Only 3 percent believe Congress is trustworthy: ... 24 percent say President George W. Bush can be trusted; and 29 percent trust the courts.
    ...
    Three out of four respondents said they trust politicians less than they did five years ago.

    Now for my theory…

    Congress gets the lowest score at 3% of Americans expressing trust in them. We know that the republicans took the House in 1994 and later took the Senate - though slim. Not since 1994 has their approval been at this level. They were the first branch in recent years to break right.

    Moving on to the Executive, the compassionate conservative Presidency of George Bush ended in the wake of 11 September 2001. At this point the popular leader broke hard right, embraced neoconservativism, and began attacking countries - some unilaterally. His popularity fluctuated for some period getting boosts from time to time by appealing to American nationalism, stoking fear, and taking credit for things like capturing Saddam. This graph charts the beginning of his decent in approval and where the Administration may have used fear as a tool. His approval now hovers in the low to mid 30s.
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    (click to enlarge - chart from JuliusBlog)

    Anyway, the Executive branch was the second to go to the Republicans and went hard right after 2001. Therefore, the polls are higher than congress - with their head start - but still depressingly low at for a President. Trust in him is 24%.

    Then in 2005 Sandra Day O'Connor left the Supreme Court moving it to the right. This was followed by the death of Chief William Rehnquist. This allowed the Republicans - theoretically - to take control of that political body as well. Being the third branch of the three to break right it gets the highest level of trust from Americans at an equally depressing 29%. This chart indicates that the Court has been descending since 2003 but went way low in 2005 to 42% approval. (note: the Zogby poll, as reported by UPI, refers to trust in the courts not the Supreme Court so ponder that and if anyone can dig up more info please let me know in the comments.)

    So my conclusion is that Republican leadership has failed Americans so fundamentally that they can no longer garner a legitimate reputation for trust. They have failed to provide trust in three separate bodies of our government in recent history, one at a time, the longer they hold power the less trust they have, all declining steadily after they take control. It also implies that the opposition hasn't done enough to exploit this weakness - at least not enough for me.

    Posted by Geoff

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