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Just 28% Say Federal Government Has Consent of Governed

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Most voters still feel there’s a disconnect between themselves and Congress, but they appear a bit more confident that members of Congress can outperform the average Joe.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 28% believe the federal government today has the consent of the governed.  But that’s up seven points from this time last year when 21% felt that way.  In the latest survey, 55% say the government does not have the consent of the governed, while 17% are not sure.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The founding document of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of voters now think a group of people selected at random from the phone book could do a better job addressing the nation’s problems than the current Congress, but 41% disagree. Twenty-two percent (22%) are not sure. 

In October 2008, nearly half (49%) didn’t think a random selection of people could do better than Congress.  But by August 2009, these findings were evenly divided, and in January and May of last year, a plurality of voters trusted a random selection more than Congress.

When the last session of Congress closed its doors in December, just 13% of voters rated its performance as good or excellent, consistent with its ratings for much of the two years it was in existence.  That number had fallen to 10% less than a month after the new session of Congress began. 

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on February 10-11, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.


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