Americans have long been critical of politicians and skeptical of the federal government. But today, Americans’ views of politics and elected officials are unrelentingly negative, with little hope of improvement on the horizon.

Majorities say the political process is dominated by special interests, flooded with campaign cash and mired in partisan warfare. Elected officials are widely viewed as self-serving and ineffective.

A comprehensive new Pew Research Center study of the state of the nation’s politics finds no single focal point for the public’s dissatisfaction. There is widespread criticism of the three branches of government, both political parties, as well as political leaders and candidates for office.  

Notably, Americans’ unhappiness with politics comes at a time of historically high levels of voter turnout in national elections. The elections of 2018, 2020 and 2022 were three of the highest-turnout U.S. elections of their respective types in decades.

But voting in elections is very different from being satisfied with the state of politics – and the public is deeply dissatisfied.

  • Just 4% of U.S. adults say the political system is working extremely or very well; another 23% […]
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