The following text is excerpted from a story in the Arizona Republic newspaper. CNI News thanks Cecilia Dean for sending this story.]
Three of four Americans distrust government, the most in polling history, according to a joint survey by Democratic and GOP pollsters. The results suggest an opening for a strong third-party presidential candidate, they said.
"It's just not pretty," said Stanley Greenberg, who does political polling for President Clinton. "This is a period of continuing and certainly deepening cynicism."
Republican pollster Fred Steeper said, "It's a critique of both parties and the system as a whole."
The bipartisan poll, issued Monday by the Americans Talk Issues Foundation and conducted with help from both Greenberg's and Steeper's organizations, said 76 percent of the people questioned responded that they rarely or never trust "government to do what is right."
That surpasses polls dating to the late 1950s that indicated dramatic discontent in times of political crisis -- 61 percent distrustful in 1974 after Watergate, 69 percent in 1980 after the Iran hostage situation and 62 percent in 1990 after the Iran-Contra affair.
The level of distrust has increased during Clinton's tenure: 71 percent in 1992, 72 percent in 1993 and 1994, and now 76 percent, according to foundation surveys. But pollsters blamed Republicans as much as Democrats for government's poor showing, noting that trust continued to plummet after the GOP took control of Congress in 1994.
Reasons people listed for distrusting government included wasting money (93%); politicians telling people "what will get them elected" (88%); taxes that help corporations more than people (81%); and politicians "do whatever they want" once elected (79%).
Other findings of the wide-ranging poll include:
* 61 percent believe the United States is moving "on the wrong track."
* 68 percent believe the world is moving "on the wrong track."
* 59 percent approve of the job being done by the United Nations.
* 76 percent believe that the United Nations, instead of the United States (19%), should be the "policeman of the world."
The telephone survey was conducted from June 20 to 28, 1995, taking a national sample of 1,000 people. The margin of sampling error was 3.2 percentage points.
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