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Federalism and separated institutions within levels of government in the American political system complicate citizen assessments of government. Using data from a statewide survey of Kentucky residents, we examine citizen trust in national, state, and local governments and citizen approval of state government institutions. We find trust to be highest in local government and approval to be highest of the state Supreme Court. Contrary to expectations, approval of the governor is not greater than that of the legislature and trust in the state government falls short of that in the national government. We contend that these patterns reflect problems facing the governor at the time of the survey rather than an ordering of trust and approval distinctive in Kentucky. Finally, in explaining both trust and institutional approval, we highlight the importance of partisanship and party control of governmental institutions.

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