Americans More Likely to View Government Leadership, Lack of Unity as Nation’s Primary Concern

January 25, 2021 by Reece Nations
Capitol Police outside the U.S. Capitol. Jan, 10, 2021. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — Americans were more likely to designate the lack of government leadership and unity as the nation’s primary issue this month, according to polling analysis from Gallup

Tensions stoked by a contentious presidential transition, the impeachment of former President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives, and fallout following the storming of the U.S. Capitol building were all contributing factors cited by respondents of Gallup’s Poll Social Series. Gallup’s polling results were generated by phone interviews conducted from Jan. 4 and Jan. 15, 2021, from a random sampling of 1,023 adults aged 18 and older who live in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

The margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level for results based on the total sample of national adults, according to Gallup. Each sample contains a minimum quota of 70% cell phone respondents and 30% landline respondents selected using random-digit-dial methods. 

The percentage of Americans who cited government leaders or their behavior as the country’s top issue rose to 29% from 20% in December, the highest percentage in nearly one year. Twelve percent of respondents cited “national discord” as the country’s top problem — a figure which increased from 5% last month — while concerns about coronavirus dropped 11 percentage points to 22%. 

For the first time since June 2020, coronavirus was not the primary issue facing the country according to respondents of Gallup’s survey. This decline in coronavirus concerns was higher among Democrats — down from 50% to 32% — than it was among independents and Republicans, down from 28% to 18% and from 20% to 14%, respectively. 

Although still higher than responses indicated in early 2020, just 10% of Americans mentioned racism or race relations as the country’s top problem. This percentage matches the average since Aug. 2020, which itself was a significant decrease from the 19% figure from June following nationwide racial justice protests. 

Republicans are still most likely of the three political party groups to designate government or national leadership as the country’s primary challenge. Thirty-seven percent of Republicans cited government or leadership-related issues, compared to 28% of Democrats and 26% of independents. 

Among other issues, responses from Republicans range from general fear of federal “corruption” and “dysfunction” to concerns about the proliferation of “socialism,” the incoming Biden-Harris administration, and the treatment of Trump as he leaves office. Democrats’ responses pertained mostly to “right-wing extremism,” “fascism,” threats to democracy, and general criticism of the Republican Party and Trump. 

Independent’s responses contained a variety of criticisms regarding a lack of bipartisanship, poor government leadership, radicalism from both parties and “specific complaints about Trump as well as Democratic leaders of Congress,” according to Gallup. Concerns about the lack of national unity were bipartisan, jumping up eight percentage points to 11% among Democrats, six percentage points to 14% among independents and five percentage points to 9% among Republicans.

However, these percentages are not as high compared to other top issues named by Gallup’s respondents over the years. At times, over 40% of Americans expressed concerns regarding the economy, terrorism, crime or drugs. 

Although ideologically divided, Americans across the political spectrum hold similar convictions regarding the nations’ primary concern. 

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