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On the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation, only a narrow majority of Americans still think Watergate was a very serious matter and nearly half think the scandal was "just politics." 

According to a new national poll by CNN/ORC International, just 51 percent of Americans consider the events of Watergate and Nixon's resignation to be a "serious matter," while 46 percent consider it to be "just politics" when pollsters asked the following question:

Now thinking for a moment about the Watergate affair during President Richard Nixon's administration. It has now been 40 years since Nixon resigned as president. Which of these two statements comes closest to your own point of view about Watergate — it was a very serious matter because it revealed corruption in the Nixon administration or it was just politics — the kind of thing that both parties engage in? 

The data show that there is also something of a generational divide. Responders in the 18-34 demographic said "just politics" 52 percent of the time, while only 46 percent of those who were 65 or older thought so.

Even though nearly half of Americans say Watergate was "just politics," the poll also indicates that trust in government has been on a steady decline since the scandal and is now at an all-time low.   

An overwhelming majority of Americans do not trust the government:  76 percent say that the government can be trusted "only some of the time" and 10 percent say the government can "never" be trusted. 

Only 13 percent of Americans say the government can be trusted to do what is right — that's the exact same number of Americans who say they trust big businesses to do what's right.  

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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