As Minnesotans prepare once again to be at the heart of another competitive presidential election, the Gopher States’ view of government has eroded precipitously during the last four years.
According to the latest Humphrey Institute / Minnesota Public Radio survey, only 28 percent of likely voters believe our government can be trusted to do what’s right ‘just about always’ or ‘most of the time.’ Nearly four years ago, in October 2004, a Humphrey Institute poll revealed that half of likely voters in Minnesota trusted the government – a decline of 44 percent.
Today, four times as many Minnesotans believe the government can ‘never’ be trusted (8 percent, double the number from 2004) as those who believe it can be trusted ‘just about always’ (only 2 percent).
Overall, 71 percent of Gopher State residents believe government can be trusted just ‘some of the time’ or ‘never’ – a steep increase from 48 percent in 2004.
This erosion of trust in government is alarming, but should not come as a surprise to those following other trends in public opinion. The latest HHH/MPR poll also shows President Bush, our head of government, holding just a 32 percent job approval rating in Minnesota – down from 51 percent from the October 2004 Humphrey Institute poll.
Moreover, the HHH/MPR poll reveals only 18 percent of likely Minnesota voters believe the country is headed in the right direction; in 2004, more than double that number (42 percent) were optimistic about the direction of the country (Rasmussen, October, 2004).
Despite Minnesotans being overwhelmingly disappointed with our government, our (Republican) president, and the direction of our country, Democrat Barack Obama is still locked in a tight race with John McCain in the Gopher State (as well as nationwide). A great pool of hungry voters thus awaits whichever presidential candidate can inspire optimism about how government will act under his leadership.