Views on Power and Influence in Washington

The June 2017 AP-NORC Poll of 1,068 adults explores the public’s views on the balance of power in Washington.

Most Americans say they have too little power in Washington these days, according to a new survey by The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Three in 4 Americans say they have too little influence in Washington and 76 percent say poor people have too little influence. Majorities say that small businesses, working people, women, seniors, and minorities lack influence in Washington. Eight in 10 Americans say wealthy people have too much influence in Washington, and more than 6 in 10 say political lobbyists and large businesses have too much influence.

There is some partisan agreement about the tilt of power in Washington, but with a few notable exceptions. Democrats and Republicans generally agree that people like them, working people, the poor, and small businesses don’t have enough power in Washington, and that political lobbyists, Wall Street, large businesses, and the wealthy have too much influence. But Republicans are nearly twice as likely as Democrats to say the news media has too much influence, and Democrats are nearly three times as likely as Republicans to say women and minorities have too little influence in Washington.

Few Americans express a great deal of confidence in U.S. institutions. From a list of 15 government and private institutions, only the military is viewed with a great deal of confidence by a majority of Americans. Just 1 in 10 express a great deal of confidence in the press. Forty percent say they have hardly any confidence in Congress and 37 percent say they have hardly any confidence in the executive branch.

The nationwide poll was conducted June 8-11, 2017 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,068 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.