Least Distrusted Branch of Government

AP US Government and Politics

What is the most trusted branch of the United States government?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What least surprised you about this data?

  3. As of 2017, what is the big story this chart tells?

  4. Over time, what is the big trend you see in this chart?

  5. Why do you think the judiciary is the most trusted branch of government?

  6. Why do you think the legislative branch is even less trusted than the executive branch?

  7. How do you think the behavior of the trump administration will impact the level of public trust in the executive branch over the next few years?

  8. Overall, is this information good news?

  9. How do you think party affiliation impacts trust in the judiciary?*

  10. How do you think party affiliation impacts trust in the executive branch?*

  11. If you ran a business that only about 1/3 of your customers trusted, how long would you stay in business?

  12. If we didn't have separation of powers and checks and balances do you think the American people would trust the government more or less?

  13. we currently have a divided government. How do you think the prevalence of divided government impacts the public's trust in the U.S. government?

  14. What is the most important consequence of our current level of trust in the US government?

  15. What do you imagine levels of trust would be like in a totalitarian country like North Korea?

  16. Let me remind you that although only about 1/3 of Americans trust the legislative branch, they tend to reelect the legislature at about a 90% rate. Explain this paradox:

  17. The most trusted branch is the one we do NOT vote for. What does that say about democracy and the power of voting?

  18. Does that make you think that if we abandoned voting we would have a government we trust?

  19. Is it possible that it is a good thing that we do not tend to trust our government?

  20. What would Thomas Jefferson think about the lack of trust in the U.S. government?

  21. Explain whether you think people trust their state and local governments more than they trust their federal government:

  22. How do you think the fact that we are a multi-ethnic nation impacts our level of trust in the government?

  23. Did you know that 27% of all statistics are made up on the spot?

  24. In the comments section, propose one change in the U.S. government to increase public trust in the government:

Learning Extension

Read the complete results of the Gallup Poll before it's too late!

Action Extension

Contact the Supreme Court of the United States of America (SCOTUSofA). Congratulate them on being the most trusted branch. Mail them a certificate of achievement. You can't email them!!!! Really! But you can call or write. Here's their contact information.

Supreme Court of the United States.
1 First Street, NE.
Washington, DC 20543.
Telephone: 202-479-3000.

Bonus Charts*


Extra-Super-Bonus Chart-o-Rama for no good reason!**

our world in data extension

Branching Out

Since 2014, what has happened to Americans’ trust and confidence in the legislative branch?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Why do you think confidence in the Congress has risen in the past 4 years.

  3. What is one consequence of this rising trust in Congress?

  4. How much do you think this trend will impact the 2018 midterm elections?

  5. Although in recent years confidence in the legislative branch has risen, overall, how would you describe Americans’ confidence in the legislative branch?

  6. How do you think party affiliation and impacts trust in the government?

  7. Knowing that over half of Americans had a negative feeling about Congress, what prediction would you make about incumbent reelection rates in the midterm elections?

  8. How does trust in Congress compare to trust in the other two branches?

  9. Why do you think that is?

  10. What has happened to confidence in the executive branch since Trump’s election?

  11. Since 1973, what is the overall trend in confidence in the federal government?

  12. Is this good news?

  13. The branch (judiciary) that is the least democratic (un-elected) is the most popular. The branch (legislative) that is the most democratic (most often elected) is the least popular. Explain that one!

  14. Madison wrote in Federalist 51, “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” What do you think that quote means?

  15. How does Madison’s quote connect to the data in the chart?

Visual Extension

Learning Extension

Read the Gallup report on American attitudes toward government.

Action Extension

Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides two methods of adopting amendments. First, Congress may, by a two-thirds majority in both houses, propose amendments to the states. Second, if two-thirds of the states ask Congress to call a constitutional convention, Congress must do so. Every amendment to date has been proposed and ratified through the first method. These groups are seeking to persuade state legislatures to take the country into the uncharted territory of an Article V convention. Think about a way you would like the U.S. Constitution to change-repeal the 22nd Amendment, legalize drones in high school classrooms, allow for elections for the federal judiciary, etc. Contact your U.S. Representative and ask them to adopt your amendment.

Dogs on Bikes Extension

Trump for Congress - Midterm Elections

How much will voters be thinking about Trump as they vote in the midterm elections?

*Pro Tip: President Trump is not actually on the ballot.

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How much of a factor is Trump going to be in the midterm elections?

  3. Explain why that is:

  4. What are two consequences of this?

  5. Is this going to be good news for Republicans?

  6. As you personally think about the midterm (whether you can vote yet or not), how much does Trump figure into your thinking about the election?

  7. How do you think party affiliation impacts whether the Trump effect will be positive or negative?*

  8. How much do you think opinion about the recent Trump tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and the ballooning federal deficit will impact the midterm elections?*

  9. After the election, who do you think will control the House? After the election, who do you think will control the Senate? And explain why House and the Senate races don’t always play out the same way?

  10. It’s long been said that “all politics are local,” but many candidates from both parties are making this election national - either running to or away from Trump. Why do you think that is?

  11. If you were a Republican running for the House in a closely contested race (only about 10 percent of all races) explain whether you would invite Trump to campaign with you right now.

  12. Right now Republicans control the presidency and both houses of Congress. Let’s imagine that the Democrats win the House in the midterm election, leading to Divided Government. List three ways that will impact President Trump?

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Listen to the NPR story about Trump and the midterm election.

Action Extension

I have already voted. Have you? You can vote (or at least get someone to vote as you would vote if you could vote)! So go vote or convince someone to vote. Share your story in class or online.

Substitute Teacher Extension

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