Obama did promise change.
Americans’ trust and confidence in the federal government’s ability to handle international problems has reached an all-time low, with 49% saying they have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence, two percentage points below the previous low of 51% recorded in 2007.
These new data come from Gallup’s annual Governance survey, conducted Sept. 5-8, 2013, while Congress was debating the use of military force in Syria, but prior to President Barack Obama’s nationally televised address on Syria, and Russia’s proposal to avert U.S. military action.
Between 57% and 66% of Americans said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the U.S. government to handle international problems during Obama’s first term. This represents a generally higher level of confidence than Americans expressed during the latter years of the Bush administration, when the U.S. was engaged in protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The historical high point on this measure (83%) came in October 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Americans also expressed high levels of confidence in the government on international matters in 1972 and 1974, when the question was first asked, even as the controversial Vietnam War was drawing to a close.