Skip to main content


As midterms approach, Americans are skeptical of the federal government

With the midterm elections now less than two weeks away, voters are being deluged by campaign ads and candidate debates, lawn signs and robocalls. But after the campaigns end and the last ballot is cast, how much will it matter? When it comes right down to it, how effective is government at actually changing people’s daily lives?    

A new nationwide survey by Bentley University and Gallup finds that only 39% of people believe the federal government is effective at impacting people’s lives in a positive way.  

And there’s a huge difference depending on which party you belong to: 57% of Democrats believe the federal government is effective at improving people’s lives, compared to only 24% of Republicans. 

Gallup Chart

The Bentley-Gallup Force for Good Survey of 5,757 U.S. adults also found:   

  • People who identify as Black are much more likely to believe the federal government can make a difference. 62 percent of Black people say the federal government is effective at impacting people’s lives, compared to 33 percent of white people.    
  • Older people are most likely to believe in the federal government’s effectiveness. Among those over age 70, 44 percent say the federal government is effective at impacting people’s lives, followed by those aged 18 to 29 (42 percent).   

  • People aged 50 to 59 had the least faith in Washington, with only 34 percent believing that the federal government is effective at impacting people’s lives.    

  • 75% of Democrats say companies should speak out on current events but Republicans overwhelmingly say they should stick to business. Only 18% of Republicans say businesses should give their opinion on stories in the news.   

“Democrats see corporate executives as allies in recent social conflicts, but they should be careful what they wish for,” said Jeff Moriarty, professor of Philosophy at Bentley. “Eventually they will find themselves on opposing sides of an issue, and then encouraging corporations to get more involved in politics will seem like a bad idea." 

So if Americans are skeptical of Washington, who do they think should step in? 

57% of people think businesses are effective at improving people’s lives, the Bentley-Gallup poll found. Republicans believe businesses make a positive impact more than Democrats do -- 72% of Republicans say businesses are effective at making a positive impact, compared to 51% of Democrats. 

The Bentley - Gallup survey

The difference in people’s trust in government compared to business highlights a growing trend. 

“The role of business in our society is evolving. People expect more from companies than simply increasing profits and meeting shareholder goals,” said Bentley President E. LaBrent Chrite. “As people’s expectations expand and businesses change to meet them, businesses themselves will have a larger role in our society – everything from how we debate political ideas to how we treat the poorest among us. The impact of business in our society has never been more important.” 

About the Survey 

The Bentley University – Gallup Force for Good Report is based on a Gallup Panel web survey completed by 5,757 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 8 to 19, 2022. The Gallup Panel is a probability-based longitudinal panel of U.S. adults whom Gallup selects using random-digit-dial phone interviews that cover landline and cell phones. Gallup also uses address-based sampling methods to recruit panel members. The sample for this survey was weighted to be demographically representative of the U.S. adult population, using the most recent Current Population Survey figures. For results based on this sample, the maximum margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Margins of error are higher for subsamples.