Are Politicians Actually Becoming Less Corrupt?

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Americans are not satisfied with politics as usual, but perhaps things aren’t as bad as they seem. Data from the Justice Department shows that — contrary to public opinion — corruption in government has been lower in recent years.

Public approval ratings of Congress are at record lows, and Gallup reported that Americans perceive political corruption to be on the rise. Perhaps this is due to several scandals that have unfolded or continued unfolding in the past year, including those concerning NSA leaks, Veteran’s Affairs, and the IRS, or perhaps what appears to be a constant slew of individual politicians’ corrupt actions — from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s Bridgegate to last week’s indictment of Gov. Rick Perry (Texas) for abuse of power. But is public perception really accurate?

According to a Gallup poll, 79 percent of respondents in 2013 answered “yes” when asked if corruption was widespread throughout the American government. This is quite a leap from 59 percent answering “yes” in 2006. People certainly are concerned about corruption in the government being on the rise, but, according to FiveThirtyEight, it’s not.

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