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New Poll: New Englanders Favor Localization, but View Feds as Best to Solve Issues

A new Morning Consult poll presents a complicated picture of New Englanders’ trust in federal, state and local governments, as well as their outlook on government overreach and limited government.  

One the one hand, 70% of respondents believe the country is on the “wrong track” with 60% strongly agreeing/somewhat agreeing that the federal government has “too much control over our day-to-day lives.” Yet when asked if the federal or local government was best suited to solve the nation’s problems, 56% of registered voters favored the former versus 46% for the latter. 

The ‘National Tracking Poll’ surveyed 725 New England voters whose party affiliations consisted of 38% Democrat, 38% Independent and 24% Republican. Other notable demographic distinctions included mostly females (53%), along with a plurality of white, no college degree (44%), respondents aged between 45-64 (36%), and living in suburban communities (43%). 

However, to make matters murkier, 66% respondents strongly agree/somewhat agree that politicians at the state and local level are more focused on “getting things accomplished than national politicians.” And local government is considered more trustworthy (76%), when compared to the state (70%) and federal (52%) levels.  

Meanwhile, respondents have more confidence in state government (39%) than the federal (8%) in protecting individual rights, and 61% strongly agree/somewhat agree that “too many of our laws are regulations made by unelected agency officials in Washington, D.C.” 

Furthermore, when asked if the federal government “can be trusted,” 82% of respondents gave failing, poor and fair grades. Opinion on the federal government was even worse regarding tax spending with 86% giving the same failing marks.  

This is not strictly a Democrat or Republican perspective — 85% strongly agree/somewhat agree local participation is critical to maintain the American system of government; 78% strongly agree/somewhat agree that the most meaningful change happens at the community and local level; and 58% that local elections have more impact on people’s lives than national elections. These results go to show there is common ground across the ideological spectrum.  

But there is also a disconnect evident in how many New Englanders are civically engaged in local affairs. In the past three months, between 80-90% of respondents have not written or called any politician at any government level; attended a rally, speech or organized protest; attended a public meeting on town or school affairs; served as an officer for a club or civic organization or even volunteered for a non-profit. 

Despite respondents’ negative perspective on “government growing its power,” there are troubling indicators of how New Englanders view American principles such as federalism, limited government and self-governance. A 57% majority either are neutral or ‘don’t know’ how to feel toward Federalism (i.e., how the U.S. system is organized), while more than 30% of respondents remained neutral to limited government and self-governance. Only 15%, 39% and 36% viewed those principles positively, respectively. 

Bottom line: New Englanders appear to like the concepts of limited government and localization, but are not civically engaged, as well as knowledgeable — perhaps through no fault of their own — on the founding American principles. 

Andrew Fowler

Andrew Fowler joined Yankee Institute in July 2022 after four years in the communications department for the Knights of Columbus international headquarters in New Haven. In that span, he managed the organization’s social media accounts and wrote for the company’s various publications, including COLUMBIA magazine, which is delivered to nearly two million members. Additionally, he is the curator of the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center’s online exhibit “K of C Baseball: An American Story,” that explores the intricate ties between the organization and the growth of the national pastime. He was also a production assistant for MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and the 2016 Dinesh D’Souza film, “Hillary’s America.” Andrew currently serves on the Milford Board of Education. He is an avid runner and basketball fan, cinephile, and an aspiring musician and author. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2015.

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