A recent study from the Los Angeles Times and the American Enterprise Institute shows that even the poor have become leerier about Washington's efforts to lift them from hardship.
The survey shows that 71 percent of those below the poverty line, regardless of race, believe that the government doesn't really know how to address their problems. That number is a marked increase over the one recorded in 1985, when the Times found that only 56 percent of the poor shared the same sentiment.
The poor were also split on the impact of government welfare, with 40 percent saying that it made things worse and 34 percent saying that it somewhat improved their wellbeing. They were, however, more pessimistic than the general population. 43 percent of Americans believed that it had some "impact" on the poor.
But such findings come as other attitudes remain consistent over time. While most still believe that the poor are hardworking, they also continue to think that poverty is more-or-less a permanent condition. Such dejection is particularly prevalent among blue-collar whites, who are more inclined to vote for Donald Trump and often live in areas with low levels of intergenerational mobility, even if many are not poor themselves.
Additionally, there were demographic differences on the question of what institutions have the most responsibility to help the poor. Although only one-third thought that the government had the greatest responsibility, the LA Times' David Lauter reports that Latinos thought that "family came in second behind government; among blacks, churches took second place," and that Republicans were most likely to place it on the individual.
Other results include the following:
Fifty-eight percent of all people in 1985 thought that conditions were good for the poor. 2016's results were more ambiguous, though: 43 percent negative, 36 percent positive, and 19 percent unsure.
More people—55 percent—think that the poor have the same basic skills needed to get a job like most Americans, compared to 44 percent 30 years ago.
There has been a switch in attitudes toward the purpose of welfare: Whereas most people in 1985 were split between providing basic needs versus "[helping] poor people get back on their feet again," 58 percent now think that it should do the latter.
And compared to 1985, most of the general population, 57 percent, now believes that "it is very hard for poor people to find work." Notably, 71 percent of the poor thought this was the case as well—a 12-point jump from the last few decades.
For more polling data, see the original article in the Times.