Gallup: Americans’ Confidence in Country’s Institutions Edges Up

Americans’ confidence in the nation’s major institutions has edged up in 2017, after registering historical lows over the past three years. Newspapers, public schools and organized labor, in particular, have improved in public esteem. The average percentage of Americans expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in 14 institutions is at 35%, up from 31% in 2014 and 32% in 2015 and 2016.

With this year’s uptick, Americans’ confidence in key U.S. institutions is close to the historical average for the 14 institutions Gallup has asked about since 1993 (37%). Confidence in institutions was generally higher prior to 2007 than in the years since, and current levels are also well below the high point of the 43% confidence registered in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

Confidence Up Most in Newspapers, Public Schools and Organized Labor

This year’s June 7-11 update shows that confidence is nominally higher in 10 of the 14 specific institutions included in the long-term average, although just three of the changes are statistically significant: the rise in confidence in newspapers (up seven percentage points), public schools (six points) and organized labor (five points).

In addition to the 14 institutions in Gallup’s long-term trend, this year’s measure included small business, added to the list in 2007, and confidence in internet news, asked about only two times previously.

Overall, U.S. adults say they have the most confidence in the military, as has typically been the case since the mid-1980s. Americans have almost as much confidence in small business as they do in the military. Confidence levels drop off substantially after these two, with only one other institution — the police — getting a combined “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence rating over 50%.

At the other end of the spectrum, two institutions have confidence ratings below 20% — Congress, last on the list with a confidence rating of 12%, and news on the internet, at 16%. Forthcoming stories will discuss the trends in confidence on several of these institutions in more detail.

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SOURCE: Frank Newport