Polling Shows Pessimism in American’s View of National Institutions and Confidence in Congress
Confidence in Congress Stays at Lowest Point in Almost Fifty Years
The Harris Poll has been measuring the confidence of the American public in the leaders of major institutions since 1966. After seeing drops in confidence in almost all institutions last year, there is some stability this year as well as some small upward levels of confidence. However, some institutions are still at all time lows. Again this year, only 6% of all adults have a great deal of confidence in the leaders of Congress. Only one in ten Americans (11%) again this year say they have a great deal of confidence in the press.
Based on all the responses to this poll we calculate the Harris Confidence Index. This year, the Index has gone up to 49 after falling to 48 last year, but still down from 53 in 2010 and 54 in 2009. These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,060 adults surveyed by telephone and online between April 9 and 17, 2012 by Harris Interactive.
Some of the main findings of this Harris Poll are:
- At the top of the list, i.e. the largest numbers of people have a great deal of confidence in them, are the leaders of the military (55%) and small business (50%), far ahead of any of the other leaders on the list. These numbers have not changed significantly over the last three years;
- Also high on the list, but substantially lower, are the leaders of medicine (34%), and colleges and universities (30%);
- Not quite at the bottom of the list, but below the top institutions are the U.S. Supreme Court (27%, which is up from 24% last year), organized religion (23%), the White House (22% which is up from 19% last year), and public schools (21%); and,
- At the bottom of the list, leaders in whom the public has the least confidence are Congress (6%), Wall Street (7%), the press (11%), law firms (11%), major companies (15%), organized labor (16%) television news (17%) and the courts and the justice system (19%).
While the confidence index rose one point and a couple of institutions saw small gains, very little has changed from last year. “The American public continues to be disgusted with the shenanigans of Congress and Wall Street,” says Robert Fronk, EVP Reputation Management at Harris Interactive. “Forgiveness and respect will not return easily for these two entities.” The stabilization in confidence is clearly a better outcome than the slide seen in the previous 3 years, but many of the institutions that form the backbone of our nation continue to be perceived as lacking in leadership, which does not bode well in the short term for our nation.