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Only a third of Americans have faith the government is ‘basically sound.’ The Jan. 6 probe doesn’t help

Doubt permeates Americans' perception of the government from whether to call Jan. 6 an insurrection to the validity of the House select committee's investigation.

(CN) — Over the last two years, the number of Americans who believe the nation’s system of government is "basically sound" has declined 19 points according to a Monmouth University poll published Thursday.

Today just 36% of Americans report faith in the system, down from 55% in 2020 and 62% in 1980. In 1980, just 10% considered the American system of government unsound, a number that jumped to 22% in 2021 and to 36% now.

Monmouth University researchers polled 978 adults in English over the phone from June 23 to 27. The group included 249 who declared themselves Republicans, 306 Democrats and 414 independents. Sorted by ideology, people polled split into 337 conservatives, 348 moderates and 262 liberals.

While 71% of Republicans expressed faith in the government in 2020, that number dropped 30 points after Biden's inauguration and remains at 41% today. Similar declines were reported among independent voters, 58% of whom believed in the government in 2020, compared to 34% today. Democrats expressed a moment of short-lived optimism after Biden was sworn in, with 34% finding the government sound in 2020, followed by 45% in 2021, and back down to 36% this year.

"There's more than just partisanship at work in declining faith in the institutional framework of American democracy," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in a statement. "Yes, electoral outcomes play a role. Yes, the current economic crisis plays a role. But attacks on our fundamental democratic processes, and the lack of universal condemnation of those attacks by political leaders from both sides of the aisle, have taken a toll."

Opinions on what happened in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, remain as divided as ever, with two-third of Americans calling it a riot and half calling it an insurrection. While nearly two-thirds of Republicans called the event a riot last year, only 45% do so today. Last year, 45% of Republicans considered the event an insurrection, compared to only 13% today.

Murray said it’s unlikely testimony from the House select committee hearings—which have included testimony from advisers to Vice President Mike Pence and former Trump aids — will change many minds, since Republicans are largely tuning out from coverage. The hearings biggest audience is made up of Democrats, of which 45% said they are following, compared to 16% of independents and just 10% of Republicans.

Roughly one in three Americans trust the fairness of the committee’s investigation, while one in five do not trust it at all. Sixty-five percent of Republicans who tuned in, along with 78% who did not, report having no trust in the process what-so-ever.

But the hearings may have influenced the opinion of one in 10 Republicans.

“In a follow-up question, some of these Republicans say that they learned about the pressure Trump was exerting or that election fraud claims were spurious. However, others claim they have ‘learned’ that ‘police officers were not killed in that protest,’ or that ‘the Democrats were highly involved as well as the FBI,’” the poll explained.

Two years into President Biden’s term, 29% of Americans cling to the belief Trump won the election.

“The committee’s best hope is that the mounting evidence makes it untenable for key GOP leaders to continue to stay silent,” Murray said in a statement. “So far, though, it seems fear of political retribution from Trump voters continues to be the overriding concern.”

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