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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

For 20 years, Harris Poll has been measuring the reputations of the most high-profile American companies. This year, for the first time, people mentioned the U.S. government as a "company" that they think about — and they hate it.

Why it matters: The fact that people would bring it up unprompted — and then give it the lowest score of the 100 companies on the list — suggests that Americans aren't just unimpressed with their government. They think it's a toxic waste dump.

  • That's the biggest surprise of this year's Axios Harris Poll 100, a new partnership between Axios and Harris Poll.
  • The U.S. government was near the bottom in all of the categories the poll uses to calculate the score — especially on ethics, trust, culture, vision and citizenship.
  • No partisan divide on this one: Republicans ranked the government #95 out of the 100 companies, Democrats ranked it #98, and independents put it dead last.

Between the lines: It's not any one disaster that caused this. Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema says it's the endless barrage of bad political news — from the Russia investigation to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings to the fights over President Trump's border wall.

  • "They're just fed up — fed up with the shutdowns, the subpoenas, the wall," Gerzema said. "It comes out as one perpetual negative news cycle ... [that] really drives down your reputation."
  • It's amplified by constant coverage on cable news and social media.
  • And it affects all three branches of government, Gerzema said — the executive branch with the investigations, Congress with the shutdowns, and the judiciary with the Kavanaugh hearings.

But Trump is at the center of most of this. None of these storylines would have happened without him.

  • It's not like Congress suddenly got worse than it's been over the last 20 years — it was already at rock bottom.
  • Same with the federal bureaucracies. We've been through wars and government shutdowns. Bill Clinton even got impeached.
  • And think of it this way: the U.S. government ranked just two slots below the Trump Organization. (Its overall score was 48.6 out of 100, compared to 50.1 for the Trump Organization.)

There's bad news for actual companies, too. Facebook's ranking took a big hit. So did Tesla. Twitter showed up on the list for the first time, and it's near the bottom.

  • But there's great news for Samsung and Sony, both of which moved way up in the rankings since last year.
  • The top five: Wegman's, Amazon, Patagonia, L.L. Bean, and Walt Disney — all of which were rated highly on qualities like vision, growth, trajectory, character and ethics.
  • Rounding out the bottom five: Wells Fargo, Sears, and Phillip Morris.

The bottom line: The U.S. government has a worse reputation than a bank with a fake accounts scandal, a failing retail chain, and a tobacco company. It's going to take years to recover from that.

Go deeper: Check out all 100 company scores.

Methodology: The Axios Harris Poll 100 survey was conducted November through January in a nationally representative sample. One group, 6,118 U.S. adults, was asked to identify the two companies they believe have the best and worst reputations. Then, the 100 “most visible companies” were ranked by a second group of 18,228 adults across key measures of corporate reputation.

Go deeper

UN warns of "catastrophic" climate change failure without more emissions cuts

UN Secretary-General António Guterres at a news conference. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

A United Nations report released Friday warned that the planet will likely warm by more than 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century unless governments take extra steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Why it matters: The report, released just months ahead of November's UN Climate Summit, highlights the growing pressure on global leaders to crack down on emissions to avert the worst effects of climate change.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon approves request for 100 National Guard troops for "Justice for J6" rally

Security fencing has been reinstalled around the Capitol. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request from Capitol Police to provide 100 D.C. National Guard troops in case law enforcement requires additional support at Saturday's "Justice for J6" rally at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Security preparations have ramped up ahead of the pro-Trump demonstration, where hundreds of protesters sympathetic to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack are expected to gather.

Biden threatens new sanctions against Ethiopian officials over Tigray conflict

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden on Friday signed an executive order allowing the Treasury and State departments to impose sanctions against Ethiopian officials "responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict" in the Tigray region.

Driving the news: Hundreds of thousands of people are facing famine conditions in Tigray, but less than 10% of the needed humanitarian supplies has reached the region over the last month "due to the obstruction of aid access" by the Ethiopian government, according to Biden administration officials.