PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's 2010 Confidence in Institutions poll finds Congress ranking dead last out of the 16 institutions rated this year. Eleven percent of Americans say they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress, down from 17% in 2009 and a percentage point lower than the previous low for Congress, recorded in 2008.
The Gallup poll was conducted July 8-11, shortly before Congress passed a major financial regulatory reform bill, which President Obama signed into law this week.
Underscoring Congress' image problem, half of Americans now say they have "very little" or "no" confidence in Congress, up from 38% in 2009 -- and the highest for any institution since Gallup first asked this question in 1973. Previous near-50% readings include 48% found for the presidency in 2008, and 49% for the criminal justice system in 1994.
This year's poll also finds a 15-point drop in high confidence in the presidency, to 36% from 51% in June 2009. Over the same period, President Barack Obama's approval rating fell by 11 points, from 58% to 47%. However, confidence in the presidency remains higher than in 2008 -- the last year of George W. Bush's term -- when the figure was 26%.
Military Still No. 1
The military continues its long-standing run as the highest-rated U.S. institution. Small business and the police occupy second and third places, respectively. These three top-tier institutions all earn high confidence from a majority of Americans, something no other institution achieves this year.
The military has been No. 1 in Gallup's annual Confidence in Institutions list continuously since 1998, and has ranked No.1 or No. 2 almost every year since its initial 1975 measure.
The high level of confidence in small business contrasts with the low level of confidence in big business; the latter is tied with HMOs at 19% for next-to-last place. Confidence in organized religion is similar to where it has been since 2002, but is significantly lower than in prior years.
Forthcoming articles on Gallup.com will review the trends for these and other institutions in greater depth.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 8-11, 2010, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.View methodology, full question results, and trend data.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.