As if incumbents didn’t already have enough to worry about, add one more thing to the list.
Optimism about the American system of government is at a 36-year low, yet most Americans blame the people in office — not the system itself — for all that’s going wrong, according to a new ABC News/Yahoo! News poll.
That means bad news ahead for incumbents on Election Day — particularly those of the Democratic variety. The underlying message of the new poll seems to be that new blood on Capitol Hill is the first step in getting back on track.
“In bad times, people blame those in power: It’s got to be your fault — you’re in charge,” says Larry Sabato, head of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
There’s little doubt that Americans, frustrated by the economy’s woes, are plenty worried about Washington’s seeming inability to successfully tackle that or many of the nation’s other problems.
Only 33 percent of Americans today say they are optimistic about “our system of government and how well it works,” according to the new poll, produced for ABC and Yahoo! News by Langer Research Associates. That’s the smallest number in the nearly dozen times the question has been asked over several decades. Back in the summer of 1974 — not long after President Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of Watergate — 55 percent of Americans were optimistic that the system was working.