A recent Gallup poll was orchestrated in an attempt to gauge Americans’ opinions of several Federal Government agencies. While the list has grown and been altered since the first such study was conducted in 2003, the main constant has been the top of the list: America’s most favorable agency is the United States Postal Service (USPS). 74% of respondents viewed USPS as performing an excellent or good job, and only 8% described the public mail service as operating poorly. Even though the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) received less “poor” ratings (only 5%), the “excellent/good” rating reached just 60% for the space-focused organization. The Secret Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were also in the top 5 of the highest scores. While the study is not conducted annually, this is the first time since its inception 16 years ago that an agency besides USPS got higher than 68%- the Secret Service received an “excellent/good” score from 69% of those asked, up 6% from 2017. The agency wasn’t included on the list until 2014, when just 43% answered positively. The change in opinion suggests a 2012 prostitution scandal involving Secret Service agents has been largely forgotten by the public.
Of the 13 governmental bodies surveyed in the poll, there were 3 that earned more negative marks than positive ones. The agency for Veterans Affairs (VA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were the members of more dubious designations. Like USPS at the opposite end of the spectrum, the VA has been a constant at the bottom of the list. The lowest the VA ever scored in “excellent/good” tallies was 29% amidst reports that long waits at VA hospitals were costing some Veterans their lives. The most recent survey demonstrated a 10% increase since then as the VA was at 39% in “excellent/good” performance for 2019, but that still was the lowest of the group.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Federal Reserve Board all represent the middle of the pack. Still, these agencies each had an answer ratio boasting more “excellent/good” responses than “fair” or “poor” ones. While at one point in history the IRS received ratings as low as 27%, it experienced an uptick of 5% in likability between 2017 and 2019, going from 45% to 50% of Americans viewing it as “excellent/good.” The catalyst for such a trend was most likely the new tax laws to go into effect in 2018. FEMA saw a small drop, most likely due to the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Besides those instances, though, the data didn’t demonstrate any other notable shifts in opinion since 2017, but a lot of changes happened with the switching of presidential administrations.
The Gallup poll done in 2014 depicted significant differences when compared to the most recent results. 8 of the 13 agencies involved saw a jump in approval as Republican respondents improved their opinion of Federal agencies now that a Democrat is no longer in charge of the executive branch. The overall average rating for “excellent/good” scores spiked 8%- going from 47% to 55%. The CDC experienced the largest improvement, but that could be at least somewhat attributed to how the agency reacted to the Ebola outbreak of 2014.
When commenting on the performance of FEMA and the FBI, the biggest gaps between Democrat and Republican opinion can be seen in the data. 64% of Republicans thought FEMA was doing a good job, but only 38% of Democrats agreed. That’s a 26 point difference. Conversely, 66% of Democrats viewed the FBI positively with just 46% of Republicans sharing their sentiment. Still, as a whole, the country’s perception of the Federal Government appears to be trending upwards when compared to the 2014 survey.
Until Next Time,
**Written by Benjamin Derge, Administrative Associate. The information has been obtained from sources considered reliable but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Benjamin Derge and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize, or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors.
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