A wide-ranging national survey released Monday by the Pew Research Center found that broad majorities of both parties say they can "seldom, if ever" trust the federal government: 26% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they trusted the government, compared to just 11% of Republicans and independents with a Republican bend.
At the same time, the public seems to have lost faith in, well, the public. According to Pew, only 37% of Democrats and 36% of Republicans say they have a great or good deal of trust in the public's political wisdom.
About that political wisdom. Another major finding of the survey was that fully 80% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they want a smaller government that provides fewer services (that number is just 31% for Democrats and independents with Democratic tendencies), but there was also bipartisan agreement on the issues that the federal government should play a "major" role in shaping.
So while Americans of both parties differ widely on how big they say they want the government to be, they agree on most counts about what the government should do. Namely: a lot of stuff.
While smaller majorities of Republicans expressed a preference for the government to play a major role in almost every issue the survey covered, there were still majorities in all but three areas.
"There is bipartisan agreement that the federal government should play a major role in dealing with terrorism, natural disasters, food and medicine safety, and roads and infrastructure," according to Pew. "And while the presidential campaign has exposed sharp partisan divisions over immigration policy, large majorities of both Republicans (85%) and Democrats (80%) say the government should have a major role in managing the immigration system."
Compare the survey's findings to what's being called for by the Republicans leading in the polls right now, and the findings become a bit more confusing.
A total of 58% of Republicans say they want the government to play a major role in protecting the environment, but Donald Trump—the current Republican frontrunner—has pledged to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. ("We'll be fine with the environment," Trump told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace after he said he'd cut the department back in October.)
And 55% of Republicans want the government to play a major role in ensuring access to education. But you know what else is Trump's chopping block? The Department of Education.
But there are areas of agreement among Republicans and the candidates leading in their party's presidential field. Fewer than 40% say they think the government should play a major role in ensuring Americans have access to healthcare, which aligns with the fact that, with the exception of Ohio Governor and cool-guy haircut model John Kasich, every one of the Republicans running has pledged to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act.
Just 36% of Republicans say the government has a major role to play in helping people out of poverty, which lines up pretty nicely with the proposed slashing of social programs from candidates like Rand Paul, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz.
Though at this moment of partisan divisions, Americans seem to agree on at least one thing, according to Pew: Space exploration is kind of dumb. Only half of Democrats surveyed want the government to help advance space exploration compared to 47% of Republicans. (Sorry to Matt Damon and his Mars potatoes.)