Pulling Apart at the Poles: The Deletrious Effect of Partisan Antipathy on Trust in Government
Schneider, Kelley Renee
Trust in government has been declining since the latter half of the 20th century, while political polarization has been on the rise. This paper examines the history of trust in institutions in the United States, and analyzes the relationship between political ideology and trust in government using data from the Pew Research Center. The results of this analysis show that ideology is the strongest predictor of trust in government, with liberal respondents trusting the government more, and conservative respondents trusting the government less; however, party affiliation has a different effect for each ideology, which may lend insight into voter mindsets surrounding the 2016 election. Additionally, while education impacts trust, such effect is minimal compared to that of ideology. Lastly, scope considerations such as the quality of e-government services (indicative of state governments’ transparency and responsiveness) are insignificant across all models. Based on the results of the analysis, this paper then recommends a three-pronged course of action to reduce political polarization, to in turn lessen the effect of ideology on trust. This approach consists of recommendations for political elites, the media, and grassroots organizations, the lattermost of which is based on a field study in Iowa. These policy recommendations strive to tackle political polarization in order to lay the foundation for rebuilding trust in institutions in the United States.
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