Americans’ trust in institutions continues to flounder near record lows as less than a third say they have confidence in the Church or organized religion and about a quarter has confidence in public schools. The Gallup survey was based on the responses of 1,013 U.S. adults. The noted polling organization sampled Americans’ level of trust in more than a dozen institutions. Thirty-two percent of respondents expressed a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in the Church and organized religion compared to the historic low of 31% recorded in 2022 but still lower than the 37% recorded in 2021. Twenty-six percent of Americans held a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in the public schools, tying the historic low recorded in 2014 and down from 32% in 2021. The share of Americans who have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court rose from a record low of 25% in 2022 to 27% in 2023 but still down from 36% in 2021.
The confidence level in public schools, Supreme Court and Church varied significantly based on partisan identification. A larger share of Democrats (43%) than Republicans (9%) and independents (25%) expressed a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in public schools. Meanwhile, a larger share of Republicans (49%) reported a significant amount of confidence in the Church compared to 25% among both Democrats and independents. Similarly, a greater share of Republicans (43%) held a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in the high court than Democrats (15%), likely reflecting Democrats’ intense disapproval of some of the court’s major rulings, including the 2022 ruling that the U.S. Constitution does not contain a right to abortion. Twenty-six percent of independents expressed some level of confidence in the Supreme Court.
The average level of confidence in nine institutions Gallup has consistently sampled public opinion about since 1979 reached an all-time low of 26% this year, a dip from the 27% measured last year and the high of 48% in 1979. A majority of Americans possessed a “great deal” or “fair amount” of faith in small business (65%) and the military (60%). Both of those institutions reached record-low levels of confidence in the previous century. Majorities of Republicans (68%), Independents (66%) and Democrats (64%) maintained high levels of confidence in small business as majority confidence in the military persisted among Republicans (68%), Democrats (61%) and Independents (55%). Even as a majority of Americans of all political persuasions continue to possess confidence in small business and the military, the share of Americans experiencing a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in both institutions has consistently declined since 2021, when a respective 70% and 69% of respondents expressed a large amount of confidence in them.
In 2022, faith in small businesses and the military stood at 68% and 64%, respectively. On the other hand, confidence in the police reached an all-time low of 43% this year, while the confidence level in large technology companies (26%) and big business (14%) matched the record lows measured last year. As recently as 2021, most Americans (51%) expressed a large amount of faith in the police. When it comes to the police, the only institution that reached a record low level of confidence for the first time in 2023, Republicans (60%) were much more likely than Democrats (40%) and independents (38%) to tell pollsters that they had a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in law enforcement. Additionally, the level of confidence in big business among Republicans (17%) exceeded that of independents (15%) and Democrats (10%). Twenty-seven percent of Democrats and an equal share of independents possessed a large amount of confidence in large technology companies, followed by 22% of Republicans.
Republicans’ low level of confidence in public schools and large technology companies comes amid parents’ concerns about the inclusion of sexually explicit material in school curriculum and libraries. Meanwhile, the publication of the Twitter Files that revealed efforts to censor and blacklist conservative accounts might have played a role in the unpopularity of the large technology companies among Republicans.
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