Americans Trust This Public Institution More Than Any Other

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Americans last year still trusted the U.S. military more than any other public institution — as they have for two decades, according to a Gallup Poll.

Every year since 1973 (and twice in 1991), the international analytics and advice firm has compiled a Confidence in Institutions poll, asking participants to rank their level of confidence in 17 public institutions. The poll is based on telephone interviews with a random sample of more than 1,000 adults, 18 and over, across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the results are weighted to account for sampling error.

The institutions included are organized religion, the Supreme Court, Congress, organized labor, big business, public schools, newspapers, the military, the presidency, the medical system, banks, television news, the police, the criminal justice system, small business, news on the internet, and health management organizations (HMOs).

In first place by far last year was the military, with some 74% of respondents reporting that they had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in our armed forces. This will doubtless come as good news to those who live on or near one of America’s largest military bases.

In contrast, Congress, organized labor, big business, public schools, newspapers, television news, the criminal justice system, news on the internet, and HMOs all scored below a 30% confidence rating in 2018.

Those who ranked the military in one of the two highest categories were further asked the reasons for their choices. Among these were the importance of what the military does (keeping us safe, defending freedom, etc.), the competence with which they do their job, and the qualities of those who serve (including selflessness, bravery, and discipline). 

Some respondents also told Gallup that their high level of confidence was because they or a friend or family member had served in the armed forces. There are currently some 1.3 million active duty men and women in the various service branches, with California, Virginia, and Texas holding the top spots among states with the most people in the military

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