Americans’ Confidence in Business, News Institutions Sees Some Gains

July 6, 2017

Americans still have little confidence in news institutions, according to a new study from Gallup, but their confidence levels are rising. Nevertheless, there’s tremendous political polarization in how some institutions are perceived.

Confidence in News Sources

This year 27% of adults surveyed reported “a great deal” or “quite a lot of” confidence in newspapers. While that may seem a paltry amount, it’s a considerable upgrade from last year, when just 20% expressed that level of confidence.

It’s also good enough to outdo both TV news and news found on the internet.

Roughly one-quarter (24%) of US adults have confidence in TV news, and that’s even with a 3-point gain from last year.

As for news on the internet? Just 1 in 6 adults surveyed (16%) reported having confidence, which is worrisome considering that the internet is the top source of news for Americans.

Political polarization in these views is rampant, however. Self-identified Democrats and Independents who lean Democrat are more than twice as likely as Republicans and Republic-leaning Independents to trust TV news (31% vs. 14%). The gap is even wider for newspapers (41% and 12%, respectively), as those in the Democrat column have seen a surge in confidence in newspapers (from 25% last year to 41% this year).

The only agreement seems to be for news on the internet, which garners low levels of confidence from both sides.

Confidence in Business

While business is “on the brink of mistrust” the world over, Americans continue to have far more confidence in small than big business.

This year, 70% of Americans expressed confidence in small business (up 2 points from last year), compared to just 21% with that level of confidence in big business (up 3 points).

While Democrats and Republicans (and those leaning their respective ways) have similar confidence in small business, Republicans have twice as much confidence in big business as Democrats (28% vs. 14%).

Other Findings:

  • Confidence in banks increased by 5 points to 32%;
  • Confidence in organized labor grew by 5 points to 28%;
  • The biggest turnaround in confidence was for The Presidency, which dropped 4 points to 32%; and
  • As one can imagine, there were wildly diverging opinions with respect to the Presidency, with those in the Republican column soaring from 14% last year to 60% confident this year, and those in the Democrat column plummeting from 59% last year to just 10% this year.

About the Data: The Gallup results are based on telephone interviews conducted June 7-11, 2017, with a random sample of 1,009 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.


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