Poll Shows Most Americans Want Government Reform

An American flag flies on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

CHICAGO (CN) – A poll released Thursday gives a taste of the country’s mood ahead of next year’s presidential election, with two-thirds of Americans suggesting that significant changes are needed to make the government work. 

More than half (54%) of Americans surveyed by the University of Chicago Harris School for Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research said that the U.S. government needs significant changes, while 12%  believe the whole system of government needs to be replaced.

Independents are more in favor of a complete overhaul. They are more than twice as likely as Democrats and Republicans to favor a complete change to the political system. 

Black Americans are more likely to support significant structural changes in government than whites, according to the poll. Inez Parker, an 81-year-old retired office assistant and Democrat from Currie, North Carolina, told the Associated Press that she was frustrated that the Republican Party managed to sweep the White House and Congress in 2016 despite losing the popular vote.

She supports term limits for senators and said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should be prevented from seeking re-election. 

“Mitch McConnell has been up there forever, and he’s catering to the president and you cannot pass any laws or get anything done,” Parker said. “You should have term limits, and ordinary people should be voted from our neighborhoods to go up there in Washington, D.C.”

The survey of 1,003 adults conducted last month suggests that Americans who are the most critical of the government are more likely to say the political system needs to be changed or overhauled, and that sentiment applies to both Republicans and Democrats who are very critical of the government. 

Los Angeles resident Don Conford told the Associated Press that he is impressed by what President Donald Trump had done but otherwise has a dim view of the government. The 54-year-old construction entrepreneur said that he could not afford health insurance. 

“These politicians get into office, and they just sit there and sit there and sit there,” Conford said. “It’s immigrants’ rights and criminals’ rights up and down the board, and us hardworking citizens have to pay for it.”

Lashaunte Halliburton, 30, of Dyersburg, Tennessee, was less impressed with Trump because of cuts to low-income housing. The mother of three has struggled to keep several low paying jobs.

“He’s got money, so it’s not hard on him, and it’s not hard on his family,” Halliburton told the Associated Press. “He’s not thinking about us.”

William Howell, a professor of American politics at the University of Chicago Harris School for Public Policy, said in a statement that the poll revealed that voters expect more of their government. 

“This lack of trust and lack of performance relates to larger concerns about the state of American democracy,” Howell said. “While Americans broadly think that government should play an active role in attending to our nation’s challenges – including terrorism, promoting economic and job growth, addressing climate change, and improving access to health care – few voters are satisfied with its performance. There’s a real opening here for political candidates to address people’s desire for systemic change.”

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