2014

Confidence in Congress Stays at Lowest Point in Almost Fifty Years Confidence in the military and small business still at the top

NEW YORK, May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Harris Poll has been measuring the confidence of the American public in the leaders of major institutions since 1966. After seeing drops in confidence in almost all institutions last year, there is some stability this year as well as some small upward levels of confidence. However, some institutions are still at all time lows. Again this year, only 6% of all adults have a great deal of confidence in the leaders of Congress.  Only one in ten Americans (11%) again this year say they have a great deal of confidence in the press.

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Based on all the responses to this poll we calculate the Harris Confidence Index. This year, the Index has gone up to 49 after falling to 48 last year, but still down from 53 in 2010 and 54 in 2009. 

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,060 adults surveyed by telephone and online between April 9 and 17, 2012 by Harris Interactive.   

Some of the main findings of this Harris Poll are:

  • At the top of the list, i.e. the largest numbers of people have a great deal of confidence in them, are the leaders of the military (55%) and small business (50%), far ahead of any of the other leaders on the list. These numbers have not changed significantly over the last three years;
  • Also high on the list, but substantially lower, are the leaders of medicine (34%), and colleges and universities (30%);
  • Not quite at the bottom of the list, but below the top institutions are the U.S. Supreme Court (27%, which is up from 24% last year), organized religion (23%), the White House (22% which is up from 19% last year), and public schools (21%); and,
  • At the bottom of the list, leaders in whom the public has the least confidence are Congress (6%), Wall Street (7%), the press (11%), law firms (11%), major companies (15%), organized labor (16%) television news (17%) and the courts and the justice system (19%).

So what?

While the confidence index rose one point and a couple of institutions saw small gains, very little has changed from last year. "The American public continues to be disgusted with the shenanigans of Congress and Wall Street," says Robert Fronk, EVP Reputation Management at Harris Interactive. "Forgiveness and respect will not return easily for these two entities." The stabilization in confidence is clearly a better outcome than the slide seen in the previous 3 years, but many of the institutions that form the backbone of our nation continue to be perceived as lacking in leadership, which does not bode well in the short term for our nation.


TABLE 1
CURRENT CONFIDENCE IN LEADERS OF INSTITUTIONS (2011)
"As far as people in charge of running (READ EACH ITEM) are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?"

Base: All Adults


A Great Deal

of
Confidence

Only some

Confidence

Hardly Any

Confidence

At All

Not

Sure/Decline
to Answer

%

%

%

%

The military

55

33

8

4

Small business

50

38

7

5

Medicine

34

43

18

5

Major educational institutions, such as colleges and universities

30

47

19

4

The U.S. Supreme Court

27

50

18

5

Organized religion

23

38

30

8

The White House

22

40

34

4

Public schools

21

48

27

4

The courts and the justice system

19

54

23

4

Television news

17

48

31

4

Organized labor

16

42

35

7

Major companies

15

55

25

5

Law firms

12

51

30

8

The press

11

46

39

4

Wall Street

7

39

48

6

Congress

6

42

48

4

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


TABLE 2A
CONFIDENCE IN LEADERS OF INSTITUTIONS (2001-2012)
"As far as people in charge of running (READ EACH ITEM) are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?"
Those saying "A great deal of confidence"

Base: All Adults


2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Change

2011-

2012

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

The military

44

71

62

62

47

47

46

51

58

59

57

55

-2

Small business

X

X

X

X

47

45

54

47

48

50

50

50

0

Medicine

32

29

31

32

29

31

37

28

34

34

33

34

+1

Major educational institutions such as colleges and universities

35

33

31

37

39

38

37

32

40

35

30

30

0

The U.S. Supreme Court

35

41

34

29

29

33

27

25

28

31

24

27

+3

Organized religion

25

23

19

27

27

30

27

25

30

26

24

23

-1

The White House

21

50

40

31

31

25

22

15

36

27

19

22

+3

Public schools

X

X

X

X

26

22

22

20

25

22

20

21

+1

The courts and the justice

system

X

X

X

X

22

21

21

16

19

24

19

19

0

Television news

24

24

21

17

16

19

20

16

22

17

16

17

+1

Organized labor

15

11

14

15

17

12

15

11

16

14

15

16

+1

Major companies

20

16

13

12

17

13

16

14

11

15

13

15

+2

Law firms

10

13

12

10

11

10

13

10

11

13

11

12

+1

The press

13

16

15

15

12

14

12

10

12

13

11

11

0

Wall Street

23

19

12

17

15

15

17

11

4

8

7

7

0

Congress

18

22

20

13

16

10

10

8

9

8

6

6

0

The executive branch of the federal government

20

33

26

23

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

HARRIS INTERACTIVE CONFIDENCE INDEX*

55

65

57

55

53

52

53

44

54

53

48

49

+1

X = Not asked; * see methodology

Note: Prior to 2011 this survey was conducted by telephone only; the 2011 survey was conducted prior to Osama bin Laden's death.


TABLE 2B
CONFIDENCE IN LEADERS OF INSTITUTIONS (1991-2000)
"As far as people in charge of running (READ EACH ITEM) are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?"
Those saying "a great deal of confidence"

Base: All Adults


1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

The military

X

50

57

39

43

47

37

44

54

48

Small business

47

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Medicine

23

22

22

23

26

29

29

38

39

44

Major educational institutions such as colleges and universities

X

29

23

25

27

30

27

37

37

36

The U.S. Supreme Court

15

30

26

31

32

31

28

37

42

34

Organized religion

21

11

X

X

24

X

20

25

27

26

The White House

X

25

23

18

13

15

15

20

22

21

Public schools

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

The courts and the justice system

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Television news

9

12

23

20

16

21

18

26

23

20

Organized labor

21

11

X

X

8

X

9

13

15

15

Major companies

20

10

16

19

21

21

18

21

23

28

Law firms

X

13

11

8

9

11

7

11

10

12

The press

X

X

15

13

11

14

11

14

15

13

Wall Street

14

13

13

15

13

17

17

18

30

30

Congress

9

16

12

8

10

10

11

12

12

15

The executive branch of the federal government

X

X

15

12

9

12

12

17

17

18

HARRIS INTERACTIVE CONFIDENCE INDEX*

45

45

47

43

43

47

42

54

60

59

X = Not asked; * see methodology


TABLE 2C
CONFIDENCE IN LEADERS OF INSTITUTIONS (1981-1990)
"As far as people in charge of running (READ EACH ITEM) are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?"
Those saying "a great deal of confidence"

Base: All Adults


1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Small business

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

The military

28

31

35

45

32

36

35

33

32

43

Medicine

37

32

35

43

39

33

36

40

30

35

Major educational institutions such as colleges & universities

34

30

36

40

35

34

36

34

32

35

The U.S. Supreme Court

29

25

33

35

28

32

30

32

28

32

Organized religion

22

20

22

24

21

22

16

17

16

20

The White House

28

20

23

42

30

19

23

17

20

14

Public Schools

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

The courts and justice system

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Television news

24

24

24

28

23

27

29

28

25

27

Organized labor

12

8

10

12

13

11

11

13

10

18

Major companies

16

18

18

19

17

16

21

19

16

9

Law firms

X

X

12

17

12

14

15

13

X

X

The press

16

14

19

18

16

19

19

18

18

12

Wall Street

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

8

21

Congress

16

13

20

28

16

21

20

15

16

14

The executive branch of the federal government

24

X

X

X

19

18

19

16

17

14

HARRIS INTERACTIVE CONFIDENCE INDEX*

51

46

53

63

51

51

53

50

46

50

X = Not asked; * see methodology


TABLE 2D
CONFIDENCE IN LEADERS OF INSTITUTIONS (1966-1980)
"As far as people in charge of running (READ EACH ITEM) are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?"
Those saying "a great deal of confidence"

Base: All Adults


1966

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

1980

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

The military

61

27

35

40

33

24

23

27

29

29

28

Small business

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Medicine

73

61

48

57

50

43

42

43

42

30

34

Major educational institutions such as colleges & universities

61

37

33

44

40

36

31

37

41

33

36

The U.S. Supreme Court

50

23

28

33

40

28

22

29

29

28

27

Organized religion

41

27

30

36

32

32

24

29

24

20

22

The White House

X

X

X

18

28

X

11

31

14

15

18

Public schools

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

The courts and justice system

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Television news

X

X

X

41

31

35

28

28

35

37

29

Organized labor

22

14

15

20

18

14

10

14

15

10

14

Major companies

55

27

27

29

21

19

16

20

22

18

16

Law firms

X

X

X

24

18

16

12

14

18

16

13

The press

29

18

18

30

25

26

20

18

23

28

19

Wall Street

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

12

Congress

42

19

21

X

18

13

9

17

10

18

18

The executive branch of the federal government

41

23

27

19

28

13

11

23

14

17

17

HARRIS INTERACTIVE CONFIDENCE INDEX*

100

58

59

69

64

55

44

55

55

50

49

X = Not asked; * see methodology

TABLE 3
CONFIDENCE IN INSTITUTIONS; AVERAGE FOR INDEX IN EACH DECADE


1960s

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

2010s





1980

49

1990

50

2000

59

2010

53



1971

58

1981

51

1991

45

2001

55

2011

48



1972

59

1982

46

1992

45

2002

65

2012

49



1973

69

1983

53

1993

47

2003*

57





1974

64

1984

63

1994

43

2004

55





1975

55

1985

51

1995

43

2005

53



1966

100

1976

44

1986

51

1996

47

2006

52





1977

55

1987

53

1997

42

2007

53





1978

55

1988

50

1998

54

2008

44





1979

50

1989

46

1999

60

2009

54



AVERAGE FOR
DECADE

100

57

51

48

55

50

*Completed in December 2002


TABLE 4
CONFIDENCE LEVELS – BY PARTY
"As far as people in charge of running … are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?"
Those saying "a great deal of confidence"

Base: All Adults


Total

Party ID

Republican

Democrat

Independent

%

%

%

%

The military

55

65

52

55

Small business

50

58

43

55

Medicine

34

33

39

33

Major educational institutions, such as colleges and universities

30

25

37

26

The U.S. Supreme Court

27

29

25

28

Organized religion

23

33

22

18

The White House

22

6

39

16

Public schools

21

16

29

21

The courts and the justice system

19

20

23

17

Television news

17

10

25

14

Organized labor

16

7

26

14

Major companies

15

19

12

15

Law firms

12

10

17

9

The press

11

5

17

10

Wall Street

7

6

7

7

Congress

6

5

8

5

Methodology

The Harris Poll® was conducted by telephone and online, within the United States between April 9 and 17, 2012 among a nationwide cross section of 2,060 adults (aged 18 and over). The interviews conducted by telephone (1016) included a nationwide cross section of adults with landlines in their households.  The interviews conducted online (1044) included a nationwide sample who have agreed to take part in Harris Interactive surveys, and who indicated not having a landline (i.e., cell phone only), or using their cell phone for almost all of their calls (cell phone mostly), and thus were included to ensure representation of these groups that are lacking among a traditional RDD telephone sample.  Telephone data only were adjusted to ensure appropriate representation on number of telephone/voice lines and number of adults in the household, and online data only were are adjusted by propensity to be online to correct for attitudinal/behavioral differences between our panel and those who respond via phone.  Finally, for the combined telephone and online data, figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, household income, and phone status (cell phone only, cell phone mostly, dual users, landline mostly, landline only) were adjusted as necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.  Population proportions for demographic variables were acquired from the 2010 Current Population Survey, while phone status proportions were acquired from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

The Harris Interactive Confidence in Leadership Index measures changes in the public's confidence in various institutions. It is derived in the following manner:

  1. The index is based on the mean value of the items asked.
  2. All items have equal weight.
  3. The year 1966, the first year the items were asked, was set as a reference year for the index and assigned a score of 100. 
  4. In order to yield a score of 100 in 1966, the mean value of the original 10 items was multiplied by a factor of 2.11. This same factor was then applied to the mean score in subsequent years, as long as the same items were asked.
  5. Whenever a new item is added, the multiplication factor is changed so that the new item has no effect on that year's score. The new factor is derived by calculating the index with and without the new item(s), taking the ratio of the two scores, and multiplying this ratio by the old factor. (The current factor is 2.14). 
  6. In years when an item included in a previous year is not asked, it is assumed for calculation purposes that no change has occurred in that item since the last time it was asked.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J41437
Q601
The Harris Poll® #44, May 21, 2012
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll Insights

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.com

 


 

SOURCE Harris Interactive



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