A new Gallup poll found that confidence in 15 of 16 major American institutions has dropped since this time last year.
The yearly poll asks respondents to share how much confidence – ranging from "a great deal, quite a lot, some or very little" – they have in a list of American institutions.
Over half of Americans said they only have confidence in two of the 16 institutions mentioned – small businesses and the military. Sixty-eight percent said they have confidence in small businesses, while 64 percent said they have confidence in the military, although this is a two percent and five percent drop in confidence in these groups, respectively.
Since last year's poll, the Supreme Court and the presidency have had the greatest drop in confidence. The Supreme Court dropped eleven points from 36 percent to 25 percent, and the presidency lost fifteen points from 38 percent to 23 percent. Gallup conducted the poll before the recent Supreme Court decisions on abortion, gun rights and environmental protection, so the reaction to recent opinions is not reflected. The loss of confidence in the presidency mirrors the drop in President Joe Biden's job approval rating since last Summer.
Unsurprisingly, confidence in the presidency and the Supreme Court reflects the polarization of the political parties. Fifty-one percent of Democrats expressed confidence in the presidency versus only two percent of Republicans. While 39 percent of Republicans said they have confidence in the Supreme Court, only 13 percent of Democrats said the same.
One uniting factor in the poll is Americans' near-complete distrust of Congress. Only seven percent of Americans have confidence in Congress, a drop of five points since last year. This put Congress at the bottom of the list, with television news, big business and the criminal justice system finishing a few points ahead. Only five percent of Republicans, seven percent of Independents, and 10 percent of Democrats have confidence in Congress.
Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, believes the loss of faith in institutions could have dangerous consequences for our society. "Despite the political polarization, both sides feel like they're losing," he told FiveThirtyEight. "And populaces and countries that are pessimistic about the future end up doing really bad things."
The "church or organized religion" also saw a steady drop in confidence this past year. In 2021, 37 percent of Americans had confidence in the church, but the number dropped to 31 percent this year. The drop was reflected across all ideological groups. Confidence in the church among Republicans dropped from 52 percent to 46 percent and among Democrats from 27 percent to 26 percent. Most alarmingly for church leaders, confidence in the church dropped ten points among Independents, from 35 percent to 25 percent.
No institutions experienced a gain in confidence over the last year. Only organized labor showed no change, remaining at 28 percent.
Photo courtesy: Vlad Tchompalov/Unsplash
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.