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Photo illustration of voters, voting booths, the Capitol, the White House, and raised hands.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Majorities in both parties say most candidates run for their own self interest.

A new poll finds just 21 percent believe all or most candidates run to serve their community.


Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing: Most believe that political candidates run for office to serve their personal interests, not the community’s interests.

That’s according to a new Pew Research Center study, which finds 65 percent of American adults saying that all or most people who run for office do so because they want to serve their own personal interests. 

And there’s no almost no partisan difference: 66 percent of Republican respondents and 63 percent of Democrats hold this view.

By contrast, just 21 percent of Americans think that all or most candidates for office run because they want to serve their community.

These numbers aren’t the only damning finding that Pew uncovers about the state of American politics and government. The other: Trust in the federal government has continued to decline.

According to the findings of this new Pew poll, just 29 percent of Democrats and 9 percent of Republicans say they trust the federal government all or most of the time. 

That’s down from when both parties’ trust hovered between 70 and 80 percent in the 1950s and 1960s. Here's the trend line from Pew:

Pew poll
Pew poll

The new Pew Research Center survey was conducted April 25 to May 1, and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 2.0 percentage points.