Photo: www.ocfa.orgTrust in government has been measured for decades and a number of general tendencies have been repeatedly documented. The trends are noticeable in a recent survey by Ciruli Associates among Orange County residents concerning confidence in governments’ response to wildfires.
- The farther away a government is from citizens, the lower the level of confidence. Local government is nearly always more trusted than state or especially federal government. As the table below shows, strong confidence in the government’s responsiveness to wildfire declined from 27 percent (“very confident”) in local government to 13 percent for federal, a 52 percent drop.
- Partisanship is another influence in peoples’ trust in government with Republicans usually showing less trust. In this poll at each level of government, partisanship has significant sway. For example, the difference between Democrats and Republicans is less at the local than at the state and federal level but still significant. High levels of confidence in local government drop from 34 percent among Democrats to 25 percent for Republicans or 9 points, and the drop off at the federal government level is nearly twice as large at 17 points.
- Familiarity with the level of government personnel and activity influences the amount of trust as does the partisan identity of the level of government. In California, local government is perceived as more nonpartisan, whereas the state and federal government are perceived as partisan, currently Democratic.
- The survey concerning wildfire was conducted for an association of Orange County fire agencies and conservation groups by Ciruli Associates with YouGov America. The survey of 1000 residents was fielded from July 20 to August 27, 2023. It had a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.