A large bipartisan majority of Americans believe that Washington is controlled by a “Deep State” of unelected government officials, according to a new poll.
The Monmouth University Poll found 60 percent of respondents feel that unelected or appointed government officials have too much influence in determining federal policy. The belief is consistent regardless of party affiliation, with 59 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of independents agreeing that appointed officials hold too much sway in the federal government.
“We usually expect opinions on the operation of government to shift depending on which party is
in charge. But there’s an ominous feeling by Democrats and Republicans alike that a ‘Deep State’ of unelected operatives are pulling the levers of power,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
President Trump and some of his advisers have railed against federal bureaucrats exerting partisan influence without accountability, especially at divisions such as the Justice Department, the FBI and intelligence agencies. Earlier this year, Mr. Trump tweeted about urging the “Deep State Justice Dept” to investigate Huma Abedin, a former aide to ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and to look into fired FBI Director James Comey.
According to the poll, only 13 percent of Americans are very familiar with the term “Deep State,” and 63 percent are not familiar with it. “However, when the term is described as a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy, nearly 3-in-4 (74 percent) say they believe this type of apparatus exists in Washington,” the report said.
The poll said minorities and National Rifle Association members are more likely that other groups to believe in the existence of a Deep State in Washington. Monmouth said 35 percent of black, Latino and Asian Americans think the Deep State definitely exists, and 43 percent of NRA members “definitely believe in the existence of a Deep State operation in D.C.”
But overall, 25 percent of Americans are certain that the Deep State exists.
The survey, released Monday, polled 803 adults with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
The poll also found that 80 percent of those polled also indicated they believe the U.S. government is monitoring or spying on American citizens. Fifty-three percent said they believe the spying is widespread, while 29 percent said they believe it occurs but isn’t widespread.
Only 14 percent of those polled said they believe the government isn’t monitoring U.S. citizens.