Almost one third of U.S. adults feel completely alienated by politics as the nation carries out its 2022 midterm elections, according to a Public Agenda report published on October 27.

Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statements:

  • “Politicians don’t care what people like me think.”
  • “Politicians in Washington cannot be trusted to put the interests of the country ahead of the interests of their party.”
  • “Politics and government can seem so complicated; I find it hard to understand what is going on.”

Nearly a third (29%) of adults are completely politically alienated, which means they agree with all three statements, while more than half (55%) of all respondents agree with at least two of these statements, and 17% do not agree with any.

A majority of respondents agree with both the politicians cannot be trusted statement (73%) and with the politicians don’t care (64%) statement, while 41% agree with the politics is too complicated statement.

Despite the widespread sense of alienation, a majority (76%) of all respondents plan to vote in the 2022 midterm elections, with a slightly higher percentage of completely alienated respondents (71%) than non-alienated respondents (67%) saying they will cast a ballot.

Half (50%) of respondents feel that U.S. democracy is in crisis (up from 36% in 2021), with 44% saying it is “facing serious challenges but not in crisis” (down from 50%) and 6% saying it is “doing well” (down from 14%).

Respondents who are completely alienated politically are more likely to say democracy is in crisis (63%) and that the design and structure of government must change (71%) than those who are not alienated (31% and 48%, respectively).

A majority of U.S. adults no longer believe that the people they elect will fix the issues and problems within U.S. governance but feel that “the design and structure of our nation’s government needs to change no matter who is elected to office.”

In 2019, 52% said the government’s design and structure is fine if the right people are elected, while 40% said the design and structure must be changed. By 2021, these figures had flipped to 47% and 53%, respectively, and to 43% and 56%, respectively, in 2022.

The full Public Agenda report is available here. The methodology and topline results are available here.

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