The just released Gallup Poll on Confidence in U.S. Institutions reveals a continuing slump in American confidence in general, with two notable exceptions. The U.S. Military and Small Business top the charts in American confidence, while Congress (no surprise here) comes in dead last. Some interesting trends are revealed through this poll, as well as some glaring contradictions.
First, here is how they break it down, best to worst:
Only The Military and Small Business are above their historical average, at 72% and 67% respectively, along with The Police there were on 3 of the 15 Institutions that had better than 50% confidence. When we look at the top 5, we see The Military, Small Business, The Police, The Church/Organized Religion and The Medical System. Ironically, Americans have very little confidence in the institutions that they look to for solutions to the nation’s problems;
- Congress – 8% confidence
- U.S. Supreme Court – 32% confidence
- The Presidency – 33% confidence
- All Three are 10-16 points BELOW the historical averages
Other institutions people turn to for help like Organized Labor (24%) or look to for the future like Public Schools (31%) have not instilled much confidence in Americans. When it comes to staying informed on the issues, less than 1 in 4 Americans have confidence in TV News or Newspapers.
Despite the good numbers for the Military and Small Business in this latest survey, overall confidence in these American Institutions remains low for several years running. Peaking in 2004, at 43%, the overall average confidence is only 32% this year and has been in a slump overall since 2007. Coincidentally, 2004 was also the last year Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States averaged better than 40%. Currently, 28% of Americans are satisfied with the state of the nation.
Americans continue to show lower levels of confidence in most of the major institutions central to U.S. society. That speaks to the broader dissatisfaction Americans have with the state of the nation more generally over the past decade as the U.S. has faced serious economic, international and political challenges. Americans have tended to be more confident in U.S. institutions when the economy has been strong, such as in the mid-1980s and the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although Americans are now more upbeat about the economy than they were in 2008-2013, they are not yet convinced that the economy is good, given that their assessments of national economic conditions remain more negative than positive.