Gallup’s Institutional Trust Poll


Gallup has another of its yearly trust polls out, this one covering institutions. It should surprise no one that virtually every institution covered showed a decline in public trust. This is a long-term trend, and for a democracy, an existential threat that our leaders in all of those institutions have not been taking sufficiently seriously. The one surprise in the survey is that the only institution that showed a rise in public trust since last year: the police!

Here is the list:

Trust poll

I am thrilled to see trust in the public schools crashing. Most of the drops in trust levels are small enough to be shrugged off, although a 1% drop when you only had 12% trust to begin with—that’s Congress—could be significant. I suppose one could quibble that Gallup’s term, “confidence,” is different from “trust.” I don’t see the distinction: I don’t trust people and things I have no confidence in, and I have no confidence in those I can’t trust.

Now look at how the scores broke down by levels of “confidence” and over time. Since it’s a long way to the end, a couple of observations at the front (you will have more, I’m sure:

  • The Presidency trust levels are a yo-yo, and despite the assault on President Trump, he does not appear to have done the kind of damage to the institution that has been claimed by his critics.
  • Congress, on the other hand, has lost the trust of the public in two decades, the legacy of Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, and various GOP Speakers like Hastert, Gingrich and Ryan.
  • The trust in newspapers is bolstered by public confidence in local papers, but TV news has also cratered, thanks to, well, all of the news networks.


Confidence in institutions2

6 thoughts on “Gallup’s Institutional Trust Poll

  1. In the Gallup 2020 “Profession Ratings for Having Very High/High Honesty and Ethical Standards” from last December, police were ranked 5th at 52%, with only nurses, medical doctors, pharmacists and grade school teachers ranked higher. These top five were the only ones with more than a 50% rating.

  2. “The Presidency trust levels are a yo-yo, and despite the assault on President Trump, he does not appear to have done the kind of damage to the institution that has been claimed by his critics.”

    If you evaluate the period 2009 – 2016 you will find that the confidence levels dropped precipitously during the Obama administration. While he regained the confidence in people upon his election, which followed Bush 2 who lost a great deal of points in his second term, his confidence level went on a downward slide and did not have an opportunity to recover because of the relentless attacks on Trump and his cognitively questionable successor.

  3. One thing that struck me was the two year trend — virtually every rating went down in 2021, but they also almost all went up even more in 2020. Apparently we had more faith last year in our institutions than both the year before or the year after. Most of these numbers are still higher than the 2019 numbers.

    The other thing that leaps out is trust in the military. It was at much lower levels in the 70s and 80s and rose dramatically after 9/11. It seems to have remained fairly steady over the 20 years since.

  4. Pingback: Confidence in U.S. Military Falls from 70% to 48% Since 2018 - AMAC - The Association of Mature American Citizens

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