Source of article The Jury Room - Keene Trial Consulting.

If you only listen to some news channels, you would think that US citizens have very negative perspectives on federal agencies—especially the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). You would however, be incorrect according to the latest Pew Research survey. In the face of increased media noise, it is important to maintain awareness of what the data says and not what we hear repeatedly is true. We hope you will review the entire survey report (which is only 4 pages long) but we are only covering some of their findings here. 

Here are a few of the report highlights:  

USPS remains #1: The public rates the 10 federal agencies and departments in the survey more positively than negatively. USPS remains at the top with 88% viewing it favorably, while the Department of Education is lowest rated with only 53% expressing a favorable perception. 

The FBI takes the #3 spot with 66% favorable ratings although Republican perspectives have decreased somewhat over the past year. (There is a 23 percentage point gap between Republican and Democrat’s perceptions of the FBI.)

Wide partisan gaps: If you read the entire report, you will see there are wide partisan gaps in attitudes toward many of these agencies—the political divide continues strong and is clearly seen when respondents are asked to identify themselves as either Republican, Republican-leaning Independent, Democrat, or Democrat-leaning Independent. 

Republican views more favorable: With the Republicans in power at the moment, Republican perspectives on the Department of Justice, the Federal Reserve, and Veteran’s Affairs have grown more positive while Democrat views have decreased in comparable fashion. 

From a litigation advocacy perspective, this new survey shows us some of what we expected but not all. Views of the FBI have not tumbled dramatically. The Department of Education is at the bottom of the favorable perspectives list with only slightly more than half of the respondents listing a favorable perspective. 

In our pretrial research work, we have rarely found political affiliation to be a bright line differentiator in ultimate verdict (despite what the surveys say), although it can be relevant for views of damage valuations. Every once in a while political affiliation is a divider on case facts so we keep checking it but, in our experience, it is far from the magical divider many survey results would have us believe. 

Pew Research Center. February 14, 2018. Majorities Express Favorable Opinions of Several Federal Agencies, Including the FBI.