As the chart above shows, those estimates are record highs for estimates for both the federal and state government and hovering around a high for local governments. Gallup first asked the question in 1979, 1981 (several times), 1984, 1986, 2001, 2009, 2011 and then during the first week of this month. The current survey is based on phone interviews with 1,017 adults. The relatively positive estimates for local governments over federal has been consistent over time.
The view that the federal government is generally more wasteful seems to be driven largely by Republican disillusionment. While Democrats are also consider the federal government more wasteful than local governments, there is only a 7-cent gap in their estimates of waste. For Republicans, however, the gap is 20 cents. And both parties are much closer in their estimates locally, a difference of opinion of four cents, than they are federally, where they differ by 17 cents.