Trust in government has multiple meanings, many sources, and numerous consequences. David Easton distinguished between diffuse support—that is, trust in the institutions and mechanisms of government— and specific support, trust in current officeholders. Researchers also can ask about trust in specifie institutions within government (legislative, judicial, executive, law enforcement), at all levels (federal, state, and local).

Political life, even at a routine and mundane level, entails risk. When we vote for a candidate, pay our taxes, or obey the law, we hope that our efforts will not be wasted or exploited. Civic life, in a nutshell, demands that we trust our government to uphold its end of the democratic bargain. Survey research has tracked the rise and fall in political trust over the decades and has ...

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