Republicans are more likely to express confidence in the police and the church, while Democrats are more likely to have confidence in the media and public schools, according to Gallup's annual survey on opinions about major institutions.
The poll, released this month, reveals a wide partisan gap on a number of institutions, with Republicans twice as likely to have confidence in the police and church.
Although 76 percent of Americans who identify as Republican say they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in police, only 31 percent of Democrats do. Gallup also found a divide in views of the church/organized religion, with 51 percent of Republicans but only 26 percent of Democrats expressing confidence.
Meanwhile, members of both political parties have little confidence in the media, even if Republicans are far less likely to trust it. The poll showed that 8 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of Democrats say they have confidence in newspapers. Similarly, 6 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of Democrats have confidence in television news.
On public schools, 20 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats express confidence.
The annual Gallup survey gauges Americans' opinions on more than a dozen institutions. Gallup's first public survey on institutions took place during the Watergate scandal in 1973.
The institutions that attract the most confidence from Americans are small businesses (70 percent) and the military (69 percent), followed by the police (51 percent) and the medical system (44 percent).
The average confidence rating among all institutions is 33 percent – a percentage that has remained between 31 and 36 percent for the past 15 years, according to Gallup.
"Before 2006, averages at or above 40% were more common," Gallup's Megan Brenan wrote in an online analysis.
Americans' confidence in police edged up in this year's poll to 51 percent after falling to 48 percent in 2020. It was at 53 percent in 2019. Between 2007 and 2018, it ranged from 52 to 59 percent.
"When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in 2020, it caused great upheaval in most aspects of Americans' lives," Brenan wrote. "It also resulted in an overall uptick in average confidence across 14 institutions, driven largely by sharp one-year increases – among the largest Gallup has measured – for the U.S. medical system and public schools. Now, with the worst of the pandemic seemingly over and the intensity of the racial justice protests subsiding, Americans' confidence has retreated to more typical levels seen in recent years."
Photo courtesy: Nagesh Badu/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.