It’s conventional wisdom these days in politics that serving in state government (as a governor, ideally) is a better launching pad to national political office than serving in the federal government. Now we have some empirical evidence that it’s true.
New data from the Pew Research Center — we heart them here at the Fix — shows that over the last ten years, the favorable rating of the federal government has plummeted while remaining remarkably steady for state and local governments.
Here’s the data in a single chart:
Just one in three people view the federal government favorably as compared to 52 percent who regard state government in a favorable light. Local government is even more popular with a 61 percent favorable rating.
What explains that disparity?
Some of it is partisanship as just 20 percent of Republicans now view the federal government favorably while 53 percent did so when George W. Bush was president. Fifty one percent of Democrats now have a favorable view of the federal government.
But most of the gap is explained by the fact that people simply believe state government works better.
Forty two percent said state government “addresses people’s needs” while just 30 percent said the same of the federal government. Thirty six percent said that state governments “can usually work together to get things done” while just one in five said the same of the federal government.
The most depressing for members of the federal government? Just three in ten people said the federal government is “mostly honest”. Ouchy. Forty nine percent said the same of state government.
The Pew poll affirms that if you are an ambitious elected official looking to move up in the political world, you should look to your state capitol not the nation’s capitol for a promotion.