The percentage of Americans who see the government as a threat to their freedoms is at an 18-year high, according to a poll released Thursday by Pew Research, with the change fueled mostly by conservative Republicans.
Fifty-three percent of Americans now say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms -- the first time a majority has agreed with that statement since Pew began polling on the question in 1995.
Mistrust of the government is also high, with nearly three-quarters of Americans saying they can trust the government to do the right thing only sometimes or never.
Conservative Republicans have grown increasingly likely to view government as a threat during President Obama's time in office. Three-quarters now say the government is a threat, up from 62 percent in 2010. That sentiment increased to a lesser extent among Republicans as a whole. Democrats, 38 percent of whom see the government as a threat, showed relatively little change.
Conservative Republicans are now also more than three times as likely than Democrats to say that the government poses a major threat to their rights and freedoms.
Members of gun-owning households are more likely than non-gun owners to see the government as a threat, although the gap between the two has remained constant over the past three years.
While the view of the government as a threat is at a peak, unhappiness with the federal government is not unusual, according to Pew, with anger and frustration spiking among liberal Democrats during George W. Bush's second term and more recently among conservative Republicans. Since 1997, the only time most people were basically content with the government came immediately after 9/11.
The Pew poll surveyed 1,502 adults between Jan. 9 and Jan. 13, using live telephone interviews. Respondents self-identified their political affiliations.