Americans Confident in Military, not Congress

March 18, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Government & Politics | Media & Entertainment

The military inspires a great deal of confidence in almost six in 10 Americans, while Congress inspires such confidence in less than one in 10 Americans, according to research from Harris Interactive.

Military, Small Biz Earn Confidence
When asked how much confidence the people in charge of different US institutions inspire, 59% of Harris Poll respondents said the military inspires a great deal of confidence and 30% said it inspires some confidence. Another 9% said the military inspires hardly any confidence at all and 2% were unsure or declined to answer.

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Small business inspires a great deal of confidence in 50% of respondents and some confidence in 42% of respondents, giving small business a slightly higher total confidence level (92%) than the military (89%). Small business also had a lower percentage of respondents saying it inspires hardly any confidence at all (5%) than the military.

After the military and small business, there is major dropoff in public confidence in the leaders of US institutions. Only three other institutions: major educational institutions (35%), medicine (34%) and the US Supreme Court (31%), inspire a great deal of confidence in more than 30% of respondents.

Congress, Wall Street Inspire Least Confidence
At the other end of the public confidence spectrum, the leaders of two institutions: Congress and Wall Street, only inspire a great deal of confidence in 8% of respondents. Congress fared slightly worse than Wall Street, with a lower percentage of respondents saying it inspires some confidence (41% vs. 43%) and a higher percentage saying it inspires hardly any confidence at all (48% vs. 45%).

No other institution scored in the single digits for inspiring a great deal of confidence.

Republicans and Democrats Differ
Not surprisingly, respondents identifying themselves as Republicans and Democrats place their confidence in different institutions. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans have a great deal of confidence in the military, compared to 54% of Democrats; while 62% of Republicans have a great deal of confidence in small business, compared to 44% of Democrats.

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Conversely, 54% of Democrats have a great deal of confidence in the White House, compared to 7% of Republicans (overall score 27%); and 27% of Democrats have a great deal of confidence in organized labor, compared to 7% of Republicans (overall score 14%).

Other institutions with a significant difference in the great deal of confidence they inspire by major political party include organized religion (42% of Republicans, 21% of Democrats, 26% overall), the press (22% of Democrats, 8% of Republicans, 13% overall) and television news (25% of Democrats, 14% of Republicans, 17% overall).

It is also worth noting that the highest score for having a great deal of confidence among Republicans was 79% (military), while among Democrats the highest score was only 54% (military, White House).

Trust in Banks Drops Sharply
In addition to having low confidence in Wall Street, US consumers also have low confidence in the banking industry, according to a recent study from PR firm Edelman. The 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that only 29% of US respondents trust the banking industry to do what is right, compared to 68% in 2007.

About the Survey: The Harris Poll was conducted by telephone within the US between February 16-21, 2010 among a nationwide cross section of 1,010 adults aged 18 and older. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, size of place (urbanicity), and number of phone lines voice/telephone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

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