Americans Name Government as No. 1 U.S. Problem

Americans Name Government as No. 1 U.S. Problem

by Justin McCarthy

Story Highlights

  • Gov't listed as top U.S. problem for four months straight
  • Economy still among top problems
  • Satisfaction with direction of U.S. at 31%

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans continue to name the government (18%) as the most important U.S. problem, a distinction it has had for the past four months. Americans' mentions of the economy as the top problem (11%) dropped this month, leaving it tied with jobs (10%) for second place.

Trends in Top "Most Important" U.S. Problems, March 2014-March 2015

Though issues such as terrorism, healthcare, race relations and immigration have emerged among the top problems in recent polls, government, the economy and unemployment have been the dominant problems listed by Americans for more than a year.

The latest results are from a March 5-8 Gallup poll of 1,025 American adults.

While the ranking of the top two problems is similar to what Gallup found in February, mentions of the economy dropped from 16% to the current 11%. In a separate measure, Americans' confidence in the economy had been dipping further into negative territory in late February and early March, but has been improving in recent days.

The state of U.S. healthcare also became less of a problem to Americans in March, as 7% mention it this month, compared with 10% in February.

Most Commonly Named Problems in February 2015 vs. March 2015

The latest poll found that terrorism (6%), the situation in Iraq/ISIS (4%) and national security (4%) also ranked among the most cited problems, illustrating that terrorism concerns are still on many Americans' minds.

Satisfaction With Direction of U.S. at 31%

Thirty-one percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the country. Satisfaction has been stable over the last three months; however, it remains higher than most readings since 2007.

Satisfaction with the nation's direction had declined in 2013 and 2014 after reaching 33% during the 2012 fall presidential campaign. Satisfaction reached an all-time low of 7% in late 2008 as the financial crisis was underway, and an all-time high of 71% in February 1999 amid the dot-com boom.

Trend: Satisfaction With the Direction of the U.S.

Bottom Line

While dissatisfaction with government is by no means a new issue to the American people, it has not in recent months been as clearly the leading problem as it is now, given that fewer Americans mention the economy.

Meanwhile, satisfaction with the direction of the U.S. remains relatively upbeat compared with figures from recent years, but two-thirds of Americans continue to be dissatisfied.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 5-8, 2015, with a random sample of 1,025 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses, and trends.

Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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