Americans responding to monthly Gallup polls this year identified “government” as the nation’s top problem, edging out inflation to win that distinction for the seventh time in the past decade.
An average of 19% of adults mentioned some aspect of the government as the biggest problem facing the U.S. in polls from January to December, Gallup reported Tuesday.
Another 16% flagged the high cost of living or inflation, and 12% cited the economy in general. Immigration, unifying the country, COVID-19, race relations and crime averaged between 4% and 6% of mentions apiece. About 3% mentioned abortion.
“Dissatisfaction with the government did not emerge in recent history as one of the top issues facing the nation until 2012,” Gallup said. “Since 2013 — when the government shutdown caused mentions of the government to surge — it has been the first or second most-cited issue each year.”
Overall, Americans’ satisfaction with the direction of the U.S. dropped from 27% last year to 18% this year. That is the lowest since 17% expressed satisfaction in 2011 and the fourth time since 1979 that annual satisfaction has fallen below 20%.
“The other two times were in 1979 and 2008 — also periods of economic turmoil in the U.S.,” Gallup said.
The only year in the past five years that Americans did not name the government as the top problem was 2020. That year, COVID-19 topped the annual list of concerns.
Inflation had not ranked in the poll’s top four issues for more than two decades before this year, Gallup said.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has improved throughout the year, inflation has worsened and heightened Americans’ concerns,” Gallup said.
Gallup conducted its 11th and final randomized national telephone survey of the year among 1,020 adults Nov. 9-Dec. 2. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.