Trust in Government

This series focuses on how the level of trust that citizens have in the Federal Government has changed over time. The data was taken from an aggregated study by the American National Election Studies (ANES) organization which used results from five different questions to procur the data points for this series. In 1966 it is interesting to note that despite protests for the Vietnam War, public trust in Government actually reached its peak at 61%. Possible causes for this could be the various space missions that were successfully completed over the course of that year. However further study is required to verify any correlation. A subindex is available with further data on trust and other topics relevant to public opinion. Sources: ANES Trust in Government Index

Government Satisfaction

For the level of contentment key indicator two series from a data set by PEW research center (shown below) were used to highlight the changes of citizens' attitudes towards government over time. These series are often the inverse of one another and are meant to showcase opposite ends of the spectrum. It is interesting to note that in November of 2001, the "basically content" series reached its peak at 53% while the "angry" series reached its low at 8%. This anomaly in the data is possibly due to the tragic events that happend on September 11th, 2001 and the government response that followed. However more study is required to verify any possible correlation. A subindex is also available that contains further data on contentment with the federal government as well other studies that explore other themes of public opinion in relation to government. Sources: PEW Research Center April 2017 Political Survey

Big Government

This series is taken from a federalism study done by Emily Ekins and John Samples which offers a comparative view of how public perception has fluctuated over the past serveral decades. One such question was which institution (between big government, big business, and big labor) citizens perceived as being the most detrimental to the future of the United States. For the main dashboard we only used the data points pertaining to how many citizens thought that big government was the biggest threat. A subindex is available that contains a graph (pictured below) that shows in further detail which institution is perceived as the biggest threat and how it varies over time, as well as other series which explore further themes on public opinion. Sources: Public Attitudes toward Federalism: The Public’s Preference for Renewed Federalism by John Samples and Emily Ekins Record High in U.S. Say Big Government Greatest Threat by Jefrey M. Jones

Economic Efficiency

The question of how government uses taxes or money is a recurring theme among public opinion questions. From how wisely tax dollars are spent, to least fair tax, to most for your money - each helps to reflect public perception of how economical the govenment is. For this main dashboard, we selected the variable of which level of governments citizens feel give them the most for their money. This series in particular focuses on the Federal Government and the fluctuations in public perception of how economical it is. A subindex is available with further data on public perception of the relationship between taxes and money usage and the various levels of government, as well as other series on public opinion topics. Sources: Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations Public Opinion Reports.

North American Federalism

While many of the series that we have chosen for this dashboard have focused on a more longitudinal view of how public opinion has changed in the United States over the course of the past few decades, for this series (even though there are fewer years) we wanted to highlight a study that focuses on the differences in federalism and public opinion between Canada, Mexico, and the United States. For this key indicator we focused on the difference in trust and confidence between the three countries. A subindex is available that explores further comparisons on issues of federalism and public opinion between the Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Sources: Citizen Attitudes Toward Issues of Federalism in Canada, Mexico, and the United States by John Kincaid and Richard L. Cole

Data Downloads

The data shown in the graph can be downloaded in a variety of formats such as jpeg, pdf, xls, etc. In order to download the data in the desired format, click on the icon shown below. Please note that whatever series are selected or displayed on the graph, will be what is downloaded (whether as data or as an image.) This allows you to create and download your own customizable data set. In order to download the complete data for the graph, make sure that all the series are selected and visible on the graph at the time of download. Credit for downloadable data should be given to the Federalism Index. Furthermore data for this dashboard as well as the subindexes can be found on our Federalism Data Sets page.


To get started, select a series in the chart above.


To see a comparison of Public Opinion data between the United States, Canada, and Mexico click here.

Explore the Data

Public Opinion Dashboard: 1958-2016



Is there a data set that you would like to see? What other topics relating to Federal Regulations matter to you or to your state? Let us know and we will try to add it to the Federalism Index!

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