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Charted: How Democrats and Republicans View Government Agencies

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See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

A chart with the net favorability ratings of 16 federal government agencies, based on respondent party affiliation.

How Democrats and Republicans View Government Agencies

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Forget the presidential race, the partisan divide in America can also be seen by how Democrats and Republicans feel about key government agencies.

We visualize the net favorability ratings of 16 federal government agencies, based on respondent party affiliation.

To find this data, Pew Research Center surveyed more than 10,000 adults, between March 13-19, 2023. View their methodology page for more details about the survey, the questions asked, and the results obtained.

ℹ️ Example calculation: This survey shows net favorability. As an example of how the score is calculated, 80% of the Democrats rated the CDC “favorable” and 15% rated it “unfavorable.” Therefore, CDC’s net favorability rating with Democrats is 65.

Republicans Don’t Like How the CDC Handled the Pandemic

The division in net favorability is deepest for three federal government agencies. While the CDC garnered a net favorability rating of 65 from Democrats, more Republicans rated the agency unfavorably, leading to a net favorability rating of -32.

Similarly, with the EPA and the Department of Education, the difference in net favorability between the two voting sides is as high as 70–80 points.

Federal AgencyRepublican Net
Favorability Rating
Democrat Net
Favorability Rating
🔬 CDC-3265
🌿 EPA-1562
📚 Department of Education-3632
🚗 Department of Transportation-1846
💉 Health and Humans Services-855
💰 Federal Reserve*-2031
🕵️ FBI-1543
💼 IRS-3513
💼 Social Security Admin1452
🕵️‍♂️ CIA-830
⚖️ Justice Department-1023
🛡️ Homeland Security427
📮 USPS4867
🚀 NASA5873
🏞️ Park Service7280
🎖️ Veterans Affairs2532

Note: *The Federal Reserve is considered an instrument of the federal government but does not receive funding from it. However, it is not a private entity either, despite sharing certain characteristics with one. Figures are rounded. No answer responses are not shown.

Pew Research Center notes that Republicans didn’t always view the CDC quite so unfavorably, though a direct comparison is impossible.

Nevertheless, per the source, in March 2020, 84% of surveyed Republicans expressed positive views of the CDC’s performance. By October 2022, just 32% said the CDC had done an excellent or good job of handling the pandemic.

Meanwhile, there are a few agencies the two sides do agree on: the National Park Service, the Postal Service, and NASA.

And they both agree on Veterans Affairs as well: though neither share a particularly high opinion of the organization.

Finally, Democrats consistently rate all sixteen agencies on the survey more favorably than Republicans, showing consistency about how each side views the government in general.

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Public Opinion

Charted: How Americans Feel About Federal Government Agencies

Fourteen of 16 federal government agencies garnered more favorable responses than unfavorable ones. But what were the outliers?

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A cropped chart with the favorability ratings of 16 federal government agencies based on a March 2023 survey, conducted by Pew Research Center.

Chart: How Americans Rate 16 Federal Government Agencies

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Come election time, America won’t hesitate to show its approval or disapproval of the country’s elected political representatives. That said, feelings about the federal bureaucracy and its associated agencies are a little harder to gauge.

We chart the results from an opinion poll conducted by Pew Research Center between March 13-19, 2023. In it, 10,701 adults—a representative of the U.S. adult population—were asked whether they felt favorably or unfavorably towards 16 different federal government agencies.

ℹ️ Access Pew Research’s methodology document to find out how they conducted their survey.

Americans Love the Park Service, Are Divided Over the IRS

Broadly speaking, 14 of the 16 federal government agencies garnered more favorable responses than unfavorable ones.

Of them, the Parks Service, Postal Service, and NASA all had the approval of more than 70% of the respondents.

AgencyFavorableUnfavorableNot sure
🏞️ National Park Service81%7%12%
📮 U.S. Postal Service77%20%3%
🚀 NASA74%9%17%
💼 Social Security
Administration
61%28%12%
🔬 CDC56%38%6%
🎖️ Veterans Affairs56%28%16%
🌿 EPA55%31%14%
💉 Health & Human
Services
55%30%15%
🕵️ FBI52%36%12%
🚗 Department of
Transportation
52%36%12%
🛡️ Department of
Homeland Security
51%35%13%
⚖️ Department
of Justice
49%41%10%
🕵️‍♂️ CIA46%33%21%
📚 Department
of Education
45%47%8%
💰 Federal Reserve*43%37%20%
💼 IRS42%51%7%

Note: *The Federal Reserve is considered an instrument of the federal government but does not receive funding from it. However, it is not a private entity either, despite sharing certain characteristics with one. Figures are rounded. No answer responses are not shown.

Only the Department of Education and the IRS earned more unfavorable responses, and between them, only the IRS had a majority (51%) of unfavorable responses.

There are some caveats to remember with this data. Firstly, tax collection is a less-friendly activity than say, maintaining picturesque parks. Secondly, the survey was conducted a month before taxes were typically due, a peak time for experiencing filing woes.

Nevertheless, the IRS has come under fire in recent years. As per a New York Times article in 2019, eight years of budget cuts have stymied the agency’s ability to scrutinize tax filings from wealthier and more sophisticated filers.

At the same time poorer Americans are facing increasing audits on wage subsidies available to low income workers. According to a Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse report, this subset of filers was audited five-and-a-half more times the average American.

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