Commentary: Surprising No One, Poll Shows the Majority of Americans Associate DC Swamp With GOP Leadership

by CHQ Staff


The public’s disapproval of a Washington, D.C, “Swamp-like” culture crosses party and ideological lines, and nearly half of Americans believe Republican leadership is supporting that same Swamp, according to a new poll from the Ear to the Ground Listening Project, in which is a partner.

The poll of 1,000 likely voters, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, sought to understand how concerned Americans are about a “D.C. Swamp,” who they attribute this atmosphere to, and why it remains “undrained.”

“Our dive into voter perceptions of the D.C. Swamp show that Americans view their leadership in DC as having utterly failed in dealing with the Swamp and that Washington is on a different page from the American people, “said Anne Sorock, Executive Director of The Frontier Lab’s Ear to the Ground Listening Project.

Concern about The Swamp: 

  • 55% of voters and 66% of Republicans are concerned about the Swamp, and nearly half (46%) of Americans think the GOP leadership is supporting it.
  • 41% of conservatives, 44% of moderates, and 50% of Independents believe the GOP leadership supports the Swamp
  • 45% of voters who reside in states Trump won in the 2016 presidential election believe the GOP leadership supports the Swamp
  • Moreover, Washington is out-of-touch with their level of concern about their freedoms: 53% of Americans disagree that their elected officials in Washington share their level of concern for threats to their freedom.
  • A concern tested in the poll, that American traditions of freedom and individual rights are being threatened by social movements, public bullying, and increasing political violence, saw agreement from 80% of Americans.

“Americans are concerned that their individual rights are threatened with the rise of the often-violent mass movements – and yet they say their representation doesn’t share that concern and is even contributing to The Swamp that is boxing them out of being heard,” said Sorock.

Definition of The Swamp: 

  • Americans may be concerned about the Swamp-effect on D.C., but they have slightly different ways of defining exactly what it is. When asked to name the top three impediments to draining the Swamp, only Trump voters identified the media as the top obstacle.
  • Americans of all political ideologies identified lobbyists as one of the top 3 impediments to draining the Swamp, but only liberals and moderates identified the bureaucracy in the top 3; conservatives did not.

Top 3 Impediments to Draining The Swamp (In order of Priority):

 OVERALL: Lobbyists, GOP Leadership, and Bureaucrats

  1. Trump Voters: Media, Democrat Leadership, and Lobbyists
  2. Conservatives: Democrat Leadership, Media, and Lobbyists
  3. Moderates: Lobbyists, GOP Leadership, and Bureaucrats
  4. Liberals: GOP Leadership, Lobbyists, and Bureaucrats

The term, “The  Swamp,” may not be as well understood as the concept itself. When the Swamp was described in greater detail, 60% of voters said it was important to drain the Swamp, compared to 54% concerned when it was only named.

Taken together, Ear to the Ground’s down-periscope examination of Americans’ attitudes about The Swamp reveal a frustration with the ineffectiveness of Congress in dealing with this issue. “This is a problem that over half of Americans identify, and yet they are seeing no movement from their representation to address or acknowledge it,” added Sorock.

To get a deeper dive into the poll click here for charts and cross tabs.

About the Survey

Conducted by McLaughlin & Associates; n = 1,000 likely voters. The sample included 33% Republicans, 36% Democrats, and 31% Independents. The sample was 53% females and 47% male. These questions were part of a larger poll conducted by McLaughlin, which is available at

About the Ear to the Ground Listening Project

The Ear to the Ground Listening Project is a collaboration between individuals in grassroots and public policy arenas seeking to understand and reflect the voice of the American people through the tools of market research. Learn more at










Reprinted with permission from

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