A new Public Affairs Council/Morning Consult poll examines the outrage many Americans have about Washington politics and the social issues in which they want corporate America most involved.
The annual Public Affairs Pulse survey of 2,210 adults, conducted Sept. 1-2, 2022, also explored the most trusted sources of political information, which industries are the most and least trusted, and the institutions that are expected to grow in influence.
What do American’s loathe most about Washington? The behavior of politicians.
- Of 10 factors measured, the most troubling were politicians too focused on getting reelected (71% considered this a major problem), politicians using their power to benefit financially (66%), intense partisanship (66%) and politicians spending too much time raising money for elections (58%).
- Younger Americans shrug off these concerns. Younger Americans were much less concerned about those four most troublesome factors than were older Americans. The most egregious behavior — the amount of time politicians spend trying to get reelected — was considered a major problem by only 53% of Gen Zers, compared with 85% of baby boomers. On politicians benefiting financially, the same comparison was 44% and 80%, respectively. The divide on intense partisanship was 43% of Gen Zers versus 82% of baby boomers, and for raising money for elections it was 37% compared with 73%.
Businesses face great expectations for social involvement.
- Protecting the environment and ending hunger were the top social issues Americans want major companies to be engaged in, with 68% of respondents supporting involvement for each.
- Americans were also strongly supportive of corporative involvement in ending discrimination by gender (67% support), race (66%) and sexual orientation (62%).
- Seventy percent (70%) of Americans consider racism to be a problem in the U.S., yet only 21% said companies were playing a positive role. Seventeen percent (17%) said businesses were playing a negative role, and 45% believed they weren’t making a difference.
- Democrats were more supportive of social-issues involvement than were Republicans across all 12 issues surveyed:
Social Issue Democratic Support Republican Support
Ending Discrimination by Gender 78% 55%
Ending Hunger/Supporting Food Security 77% 63%
Supporting Environment/Sustainability 77% 61%
Ending Discrimination by Race 75% 56%
Ending Discrimination by Sexual Orientation 74% 52%
Ending Discrimination by Gender Identity 74% 51%
Supporting Access to Quality Education 72% 53%
Supporting Human Rights 72% 48%
Supporting Affordable Housing 67% 47%
Improving Voting Access 65% 29%
Supporting Legal Access to Abortions 59% 23%
Supporting DACA 58% 25%
Other notable findings:
- Pharma and health insurance are still the least trusted industries. Forty-three percent (43%) of the public said the pharmaceutical industry is less trustworthy than average, and 41% said the same about the health insurance industry. Despite its poor ranking, pharma has gained trust in recent years. In 2021 its distrustful score was 46%, and in 2020 it was 49%.
- The most trusted sources of political information were friends and family (71% trusted) and businesses (44%). The least trusted were super PACs (17% trusted) and political campaigns (23%). The news media had a trust rating of 40%.
- The survey asked which institutions would have greater influence three years from now. Tied for first place were major companies and the U.S. Supreme Court — both with 32% of the public expecting them to become more influential. Two other institutions that were expected to have greater influence were the federal government (31% said it would gain influence) and political parties (30%).
Visit our website to view the full Public Affairs Pulse survey results: pac.org/pulse
Survey Methodology: This poll was conducted between September 1-2, 2022, among a sample of 2,210 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.
About the Public Affairs CouncilBoth nonpartisan and nonpolitical, the Public Affairs Council is the leading global association for public affairs professionals. The Council’s mission is to advance the field of public affairs and to provide its 700 member companies, nonprofits and universities with the executive education and expertise they need while maintaining the highest ethical standards. Learn more at pac.org.