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Religion in America

Digging Deeper: Confidence Part 2 - Response Timelines

This page was added August 25, 2021

Part 1 provides an Overview: 2021 Trends, impact of "Some" responses, breakdown of responses for historic Highs and Lows

< back to Religion in America summary

Summary

The following charts provide a detailed timeline of responses for 15 of the 17 institutions in the 2021 Gallup survey of Confidence in American Institutions. Large Tech (Rank 11), introduced in 2020, and Science (Rank 3), introduced in 2021, are not included because there is no history to present yet (see Digging Deeper Part 1 for more details on them).

When looking at charts, remember that the Gallup confidence survey is released in July, so it actually reflects responses in the second quarter of the year. This is especially important when considering elections and significant events, such as September 11 that would have occurred later that calendar year.

The Details

The following charts are sorted by 2021 Confidence Score (Great Deal + Quite a Lot responses). Reference to Overall Score includes "Some" responses. Some institutions have shown a decline in Confidence Score, while the Overall Score has remained more stable. The "Trend" indicated in the details of each is my own assessment to characterize each institution.

Browse the page, or click on a thumbnail image here to select an institution. Clicking on a timeline chart will open an enlarged version in another tab or window. Close it to return here.





Rank 1 2021: Small Business

SMALL BUSINESS - In survey since 2007 (15 years)
Added to list as housing crisis was building, just before the Great Recession hit

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Solid and Growing Majority
OVERALL (including "Some"): Very Strong Majority, with slight Increase since 2014

Compared to other institutions, Small Business has been remarkably strong and steady

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 70 - (even split: Great Deal 35 + Quite a Lot 35)
2021 OVERALL: 94 - including 24 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 7 / None: 0
MEDIAN SCORE: 67 (over 15 years)
FIRST Score: 59 (2007)
LATEST Score: 70 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 11 points UP
LOW Score: 59 (2007) - shortly before the Great Recession
HIGH Score: 75 (2020) - part of a general "COVID" bump seen that year
SPAN, Low-to-High: 16 points

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Rank 2 2021: The Military

THE MILITARY - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Peaks amidst growing Strong Majority
OVERALL (including "Some"): More Consistent, Trending Upward

Even with the recent decline in confidence as the war in Afghanistan dragged on, there are obvious peaks around specific military action, with confidence rising roughly 10 points since 1973 (for both Confidence Score and Overall).

DETAILS
2021 Confidence SCORE: 69 - (Great Deal 37 + Quite a Lot 32)
2021 OVERALL: 91 - including 22 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 9 / None: 0
MEDIAN SCORE: 67 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 56 (1973)
LATEST Score: 69 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 13 points UP
LOW Score: 50 (1981)
HIGH Score: 85 (1991) -the first Gulf War (George H. W. Bush, President)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 35 points

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Rank 4 2021: The Police

Science, ranked Number 3, was added to the Gallup list in 2021, so there is no history yet.



THE POLICE - In the survey since 1993 (29 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Moderate to Bare Majority, but Level over 29 years
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Very Strong Majority through 2005, then slow decline toward Strong Majority since then

Given news coverage in recent years—heightened in 2020 by the death of George Floyd—one might expect confidence in The Police to be more volatile, and to have declined significantly. Instead, it has remained relatively stable over the 29 years it has been in the survey, with Overall confidence remaining at or above 80 in the last decade.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 51- (nearly even split: Great Deal 26 + Quite a Lot 25)
2021 OVERALL: 83 - including 32 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 16 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 57 (over 29 years)
FIRST Score: 52 (1993)
LATEST Score: 51 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 1 points DOWN
LOW Score: 48 (2020) -in wake of George Floyd death, summer of demonstrations and riots, yet still close to majority--and did cross back into majority (though just barely) in 2021
HIGH Score: 64 (2004) - peak of post-9/11 rise in confidence in police and fire personnel
SPAN, Low-to-High: 16 points

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NOTE: From this point on, Confidence Scores are at or trending toward a Minority and there is a general shift toward "Quite a Lot" exceeding "A Great Deal" to make up the Confidence Score. Overall scores (including "Some") tend to be lower and follow the variations in the Confidence Score more than we saw in Majority ranking institutions with high and steady Overall scores.)


Rank 5 2021: The Medical System

THE MEDICAL SYSTEM - In the survey since 1993 (29 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Solid Minority with Slight Decline in last decade until COVID-19 "bump" in 2020
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Strong Majority, Less Variance than Confidence Score

While Confidence in The Medical System has been below majority level, like the other top ranked institutions, it has been remarkably level over 29 years. This also holds true when including "some" in the analysis.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 44 - (Great Deal 20 + Quite a Lot 24)
2021 OVERALL: 77 - including 33 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 21 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 39 (over 29 years)
FIRST Score: 34 (1993)
LATEST Score: 44 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 10 points UP
LOW Score: 31 (2007)
HIGH Score: 51 (2020) -The 2020 bump was a very unusual phenomenon related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Great Deal was up 7 points over 2019, Quite a Lot was up 8 points, both shifting from Some and Very Little, which went down 6 and 8 points. These moderated some in 2021, but remained ahead of 2019
SPAN, Low-to-High: 20 points

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Rank 6 2021: The Presidency

THE PRESIDENCY - In the survey since 1991 (30 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Strong Majority at Beginning, then Mostly Minority since 2005
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Follows Score more closely than other institutions, with pronounced drop since 2005

The roller coaster path of confidence in The Presidency reflects the mix of who is in the White House when the survey is taken with that president's agenda and response to major events which may impose their own agenda (wars, recessions, natural disasters). .

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 38 - (Great Deal 16 + Quite a Lot 22)
2021 OVERALL: 67 - including 29 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 29 / None: 4
MEDIAN SCORE: 39 (over 31 years)
FIRST Score: 72 (1991) - Gallup added The Presidency at the high point of confidence in the presidency of George H. W. Bush
LATEST Score: 39 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 34 points DOWN
LOW Score: 25 (2007) - near the end of George W. Bush's second term as the War on Terror was becoming unpopular as it dragged on and before the housing bubble reached the bursting point that led to the Great Recession.
HIGH Score: 72 (1991) - George H. W. Bush was in the White House, savoring high levels of confidence as the American military drove Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait in the 100-day Operation Desert Storm.
SPAN, Low-to-High: 47 points

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Rank 7 2021: Organized Religion

ORGANIZED RELIGION - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Strong Majority through 2000, then Steadily Declining into Minority
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Strong but Steadily Declining Majority

Confidence in Organized Religion kept the institution at or near the top of the rankings for many years, but scandals beginning in the 1990s and the steady beat of cultural change has brought considerable erosion in that confidence. This year it dropped to its lowest rank, at Number 7, but the Confidence Score of 37 was one point higher than the low of 36 in 2019, a result of the "COVID bump" in 2020. While the Confidence Score has dropped 32 points in nearly 50 years, Overall (including "some") remains about 70, losing 19 points since 1973. The biggest challenge for Organized Religion is "The Rise of the Nones," those who profess no religious affiliation, which is particularly strong among the youngest age cohorts.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 37 - (nearly even: Great Deal 19 + Quite a Lot 18)
2021 OVERALL: 71 - including 34 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 26 / None: 3
MEDIAN SCORE: 56 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 65 (1973)
LATEST Score: 37 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 28 points DOWN
LOW Score: 36 (2019) - the end of an accelerated decline in the last decade came to halt with a noticeable bump upward in 2020 (the same "COVID bump" that hit other institutions in the early months of the pandemic (remember, results are published in July each year).
HIGH Score: 68 (1975) - for its first decade in the survey Organized Religion stayed above 60. After that it only came near that mark two more times, 1991 and 2001 (before the September 11 attacks)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 32 points

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Rank 8 2021: The Supreme Court

THE SUPREME COURT- In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Strong Minority, but Weakening
OVERALL (Including "Some"):Fairly Steady, Solid Majority throughout

The Supreme Court has enjoyed majority confidence in the Gallup survey for only a short time in the 1980s, otherwise it was no lower than 40 only once until 2006, where it has remained between 30 and 40. Overall confidence has remained much higher and steadier, though that could be a reflection of the relative obscurity with which the court normally operates. To the average person in recent years it has risen to public awareness more for the increasingly partisan and contentious process of nominating new justices than for its legal opinions.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 36 - (Great Deal 13 + Quite a Lot 23)
2021 OVERALL: 78 - including 42 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 21 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 45 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 45 (1973)
LATEST Score: 36 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 9 points DOWN
LOW Score: 30 (2014)
HIGH Score: 56 (1985, 1988)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 26 points

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Rank 9 2021: Banks

BANKS - In the survey since 1979 (43 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Confidence takes a hit with each recession, then recovers
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Follows Confidence level with little moderation

Recessions are part of life and banks—big banks in particular—along with the Federal government, play a major part, so public confidence in Banks rises and falls with economic cycles. Following the recession of 1981, during the Reagan administration, confidence rose but leveled off. The recession of 1991 was deeper and the recovery during the Clinton administration more robust, continuing to a peak in 2005 during the George W. Bush administration that rose slightly higher than the recovery in the 1980s. Then the bottom fell out with the Great Recession of 2009, with recovery of confidence more evident during the second Obama term and into the Trump administration, with an upward spike of 8 points in 2020, the year of COVID and the contentious presidential election. For the 2021 survey, the early months of the Biden administration, confidence slipped back by five points, still better than any year since the bottom of 21 points in 2012. While the "Some" responses for other institutions show a moderating influence that tends to keep Overall response relatively high and steady, that is not the case with Banks, where the Some rise and fall almost with equal intensity in sync with the Great Deal and Quite a Lot responses.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 33 - (Great Deal 12 + Quite a Lot 21)
2021 OVERALL: 75 - including 42 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 23 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 41 (over 43 years)
FIRST Score: 60 (1979)
LATEST Score: 33 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 27 points DOWN
LOW Score: 21 (2012)-deepest point in the Great Recession, where the slide down started with an 8 point drop in 2007, followed by another 9 points in 2008, and another 10 points to 22 in 2009.
HIGH Score: 60 (1979) - introduction of Banks to the survey, toward the end of the Carter administration when inflation was soaring and before the low point of confidence in 1981 during the early months of the Reagan administration.
SPAN, Low-to-High: 39 points

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Rank 10 2021: Public Schools

PUBLIC SCHOOLS - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: From Clear Majority through 1970s, then Retaining a Fairly Solid Minority
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Slow Decline, but Retains Solid Majority

Public Schools enjoyed their highest Confidence in the first years in the Gallup survey, hitting a low point in 1983 before rebounding some through the 1980s, with a slow decline since then, with more pronounced ups and downs in the past decade. Overall confidence (including "Some") has fallen about 10 points, but actually show a slight increase since 2014. Public Schools, like several other institutions, experienced a "COVID bump" in 2020, rising 12 points to 41, then sliding back to 32 in 2021.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 32 - (Great Deal 13 + Quite a Lot 19)
2021 OVERALL: 71 - including 39 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 28 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 39 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 58 (1973)
LATEST Score: 32 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 26 points DOWN
LOW Score: 26 (2014)
HIGH Score: 62 (1975)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 36 points

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Rank 12 2021: Organized Labor

Large Tech, ranked #11, was added to the Gallup list in 2020, so there is no history yet for a trendline.

ORGANIZED LABOR - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Strong Minority in 1970s to Weaker Minority since then, with Upward Movement since 2007
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Solid Majority that Follows Variations in Confidence

Organized Labor, once the province of auto and steel workers, coal miners and truck drivers, has changed over recent decades, with many people associating it with school teachers, government employees and others in the public sector. In the period that Organized Labor has been included in the Gallup survey, it has received lukewarm support, with low Confidence numbers, but an overall majority when "some" responses are included. The gentle rolling support is interesting, with peaks around 1977, 2004, and 2020, pushing up against the valleys of 1981-83, 1993 and 2013. (Reagan's firing of the Air Traffic Controllers occurred in August 1981, after the 1981 survey was released—In this case the downward slide in Overall confidence started in 1977 and hit bottom in 1981, preceding the bottoming out of the Confidence Score at 26 in 1982 and 1983). While the Confidence Score rose to a recent high of 31 in 2020, it fell short of the 39 points in 1977. However, the Overall score (including "Some") hit a high of 76 in 2020, no doubt helped by the "COVID bump" though it had been rising steadily since 2015. Both Confidence and Overall scores came down 3 and 2 points respectively.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 28 - (Great Deal 12 + Quite a Lot 16)
2021 OVERALL: 74 - including 46 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 22 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 26 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 30 (1973)
LATEST Score: 28 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 2 points DOWN
LOW Score: 19 (2007, 2009)
HIGH Score: 39 (1977)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 20 points

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NOTE: From this point on, Confidence Scores for 2021 are at or below 25 and there is a tendency for Overall Scores (including "Some") to be approaching or below 50 (Majority).



Rank 13 2021: Newspapers

NEWSPAPERS - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Hit 50 in 1979, otherwise Slow and Steady Decline to low 20s
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Strong Majority through 2003, then Accelerating Decline approaching Minority

As with other institutions surveyed by Gallup, the public response to Newspapers tends to be lukewarm. Since the survey began in 1973, the Confidence Score broke into a Majority only once, at 51 in 1979, while the Overall Score (including "Some") has declined from a strong Majority around 80 as late as 2004 before descending into a steeper decline toward barely maintaining a majority by 2021. Of course, Newspapers have been in a desperate struggle for survival the entire time they have been in the Gallup survey, with ever more intense pressure as television network news became a factor during the Vietnam War (right before the Gallup institutional confidence survey began), followed by Cable news and the 24-hour news cycle in the 1990s, and Social Media in the 21st century. The competition for audience is intense, as is the question of truth and trustworthiness of the sources Americans use.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 21 - (Great Deal 8 + Quite a Lot 13)
2021 OVERALL: -71 including 35 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 39 / None: 4
MEDIAN SCORE: 33 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 39 (1973)
LATEST Score: 21 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 18 points DOWN
LOW Score: 20 (2016)
HIGH Score: 51 (1979)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 31 points

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Rank 14 2021: Criminal Justice System

THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM- In the survey since 1993 (29 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Weak Minority, with slight Arc upward through 2004, followed by return close to start
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Weak to Moderate Majority, peaking along with Confidence Score in 2004,

It could be worse. The Criminal Justice System was not highly regarded in 1993 when it was added to the Gallup survey and the Confidence Score in 2021 was 3 points higher! The Overall Score (including "Some") has been at or above 60 all but five years, when it was at above 50.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 20 - (Great Deal 7 + Quite a Lot 13)
2021 OVERALL: -58 including 38 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 39 / None: 3
MEDIAN SCORE: 24 (over 29 years)
FIRST Score: 17 (1993)
LATEST Score: 20 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 3 points UP
LOW Score: 15 (1993)
HIGH Score: 34 (2004)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 19 points

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Rank 15 2021: Big Business

BIG BUSINESS- In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE:: Not good to start with and continuing a slow decline
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Moderate Majority through 2000, then Dropped Significanlty with Erratic performance since 2006 with weak Upward Trend

Confidence in Big Business has been lukewarm at best. Except for 7 years at or above 30, the Confidence Score was between 20 and 30 through 2001, then moved closer to 20. The biggest dip came with a 12 point drop from 1979 to the 1981 recession. The Overall Score (including "Some") has been in the 60 to 70 range except for the 1981 recession when it dipped below 60. That means that for most years only a quarter or less of respondents expressed a "Great Deal" or "Quite a Lot" of confidence while a third of respondents had "Some" confidence in Big Business. That leaves 30-40% of respondents expressing Little or No confidence in Big Business for nearly 50 years.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 18 - (Great Deal 9 + Quite a Lot 9)
2021 OVERALL: -59 including 41 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 38 / None: 3
MEDIAN SCORE: 24 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 26 (1973)
LATEST Score: 18 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 8 points DOWN
LOW Score: 16 (2009)
HIGH Score: 34 (1975)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 18 points

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Rank 16 2021: Television News

Television News - In the survey since 1993 (29 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Steady Decline from Solid to Weak Minority
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Strong Majority through 2004, then Steady Decline, Falling into Minority

More than half of respondents in 2021 had Little or No confidence in Television News. Even though TV News was itself one of the competitors that caused Newspapers to struggle, TV News itself has been on the skids in terms of confidence. It leads to the question, "what news sources are people confident in?" The troubling answer is that when people no longer trust major news organizations, they turn to alternate sources that appeal to an increasingly fragmented audience that has only its own standards of credibility—Social Media, "News" Feeds, even Entertainment channels and Comedy Shows! Heaven help us!

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 16 - (Great Deal 6 + Quite a Lot 10)
2021 OVERALL: -36 including 30 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 48 / None: 5
MEDIAN SCORE: 27 (over 29 years)
FIRST Score: 46 (1993)
LATEST Score: 16 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 30 points DOWN
LOW Score: 16 (2021)
HIGH Score: 46 (1973)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 30 points

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Rank 17 2021: Congress

Congress - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Erratic Decline from Strong to Weak Minority
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Equally Erratic Decline from Strong Majority to Minority, with more pronounced Upward Trend than is apparent in Confidence Score since 2016

While Congress ended up in last place by Confidence Score in 2021, in some respects it is a more mixed bag than Television News which has declined more steadily. Congress looks like a wounded beast trying to hang on. While the Confidence Score for Congress has almost faded out after years of struggle, the "Some" respondents have kept the Overall Score above water and has actually rebounded some since 2014.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 12 - (Great Deal 5 + Quite a Lot 7)
2021 OVERALL: -49 including 37 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 47 / None: 4
MEDIAN SCORE: 24 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 42 (1973)
LATEST Score: 12 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 30 points DOWN
LOW Score: 7 (2014)
HIGH Score: 42 (1993)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 35 points

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Religion in America

Digging Deeper: Confidence Part 2 - Response Timelines

This page was added August 25, 2021

Part 1 provides an Overview: 2021 Trends, impact of "Some" responses, breakdown of responses for historic Highs and Lows

< back to Religion in America summary

Summary

The following charts provide a detailed timeline of responses for 15 of the 17 institutions in the 2021 Gallup survey of Confidence in American Institutions. Large Tech (Rank 11), introduced in 2020, and Science (Rank 3), introduced in 2021, are not included because there is no history to present yet (see Digging Deeper Part 1 for more details on them).

When looking at charts, remember that the Gallup confidence survey is released in July, so it actually reflects responses in the second quarter of the year. This is especially important when considering elections and significant events, such as September 11 that would have occurred later that calendar year.

The Details

The following charts are sorted by 2021 Confidence Score (Great Deal + Quite a Lot responses). Reference to Overall Score includes "Some" responses. Some institutions have shown a decline in Confidence Score, while the Overall Score has remained more stable. The "Trend" indicated in the details of each is my own assessment to characterize each institution.

Browse the page, or click on a thumbnail image here to select an institution. Clicking on a timeline chart will open an enlarged version in another tab or window. Close it to return here.





Rank 1 2021: Small Business

SMALL BUSINESS - In survey since 2007 (15 years)
Added to list as housing crisis was building, just before the Great Recession hit

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Solid and Growing Majority
OVERALL (including "Some"): Very Strong Majority, with slight Increase since 2014

Compared to other institutions, Small Business has been remarkably strong and steady

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 70 - (even split: Great Deal 35 + Quite a Lot 35)
2021 OVERALL: 94 - including 24 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 7 / None: 0
MEDIAN SCORE: 67 (over 15 years)
FIRST Score: 59 (2007)
LATEST Score: 70 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 11 points UP
LOW Score: 59 (2007) - shortly before the Great Recession
HIGH Score: 75 (2020) - part of a general "COVID" bump seen that year
SPAN, Low-to-High: 16 points

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Rank 2 2021: The Military

THE MILITARY - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Peaks amidst growing Strong Majority
OVERALL (including "Some"): More Consistent, Trending Upward

Even with the recent decline in confidence as the war in Afghanistan dragged on, there are obvious peaks around specific military action, with confidence rising roughly 10 points since 1973 (for both Confidence Score and Overall).

DETAILS
2021 Confidence SCORE: 69 - (Great Deal 37 + Quite a Lot 32)
2021 OVERALL: 91 - including 22 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 9 / None: 0
MEDIAN SCORE: 67 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 56 (1973)
LATEST Score: 69 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 13 points UP
LOW Score: 50 (1981)
HIGH Score: 85 (1991) -the first Gulf War (George H. W. Bush, President)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 35 points

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Rank 4 2021: The Police

Science, ranked Number 3, was added to the Gallup list in 2021, so there is no history yet.



THE POLICE - In the survey since 1993 (29 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Moderate to Bare Majority, but Level over 29 years
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Very Strong Majority through 2005, then slow decline toward Strong Majority since then

Given news coverage in recent years—heightened in 2020 by the death of George Floyd—one might expect confidence in The Police to be more volatile, and to have declined significantly. Instead, it has remained relatively stable over the 29 years it has been in the survey, with Overall confidence remaining at or above 80 in the last decade.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 51- (nearly even split: Great Deal 26 + Quite a Lot 25)
2021 OVERALL: 83 - including 32 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 16 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 57 (over 29 years)
FIRST Score: 52 (1993)
LATEST Score: 51 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 1 points DOWN
LOW Score: 48 (2020) -in wake of George Floyd death, summer of demonstrations and riots, yet still close to majority--and did cross back into majority (though just barely) in 2021
HIGH Score: 64 (2004) - peak of post-9/11 rise in confidence in police and fire personnel
SPAN, Low-to-High: 16 points

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NOTE: From this point on, Confidence Scores are at or trending toward a Minority and there is a general shift toward "Quite a Lot" exceeding "A Great Deal" to make up the Confidence Score. Overall scores (including "Some") tend to be lower and follow the variations in the Confidence Score more than we saw in Majority ranking institutions with high and steady Overall scores.)


Rank 5 2021: The Medical System

THE MEDICAL SYSTEM - In the survey since 1993 (29 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Solid Minority with Slight Decline in last decade until COVID-19 "bump" in 2020
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Strong Majority, Less Variance than Confidence Score

While Confidence in The Medical System has been below majority level, like the other top ranked institutions, it has been remarkably level over 29 years. This also holds true when including "some" in the analysis.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 44 - (Great Deal 20 + Quite a Lot 24)
2021 OVERALL: 77 - including 33 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 21 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 39 (over 29 years)
FIRST Score: 34 (1993)
LATEST Score: 44 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 10 points UP
LOW Score: 31 (2007)
HIGH Score: 51 (2020) -The 2020 bump was a very unusual phenomenon related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Great Deal was up 7 points over 2019, Quite a Lot was up 8 points, both shifting from Some and Very Little, which went down 6 and 8 points. These moderated some in 2021, but remained ahead of 2019
SPAN, Low-to-High: 20 points

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Rank 6 2021: The Presidency

THE PRESIDENCY - In the survey since 1991 (30 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Strong Majority at Beginning, then Mostly Minority since 2005
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Follows Score more closely than other institutions, with pronounced drop since 2005

The roller coaster path of confidence in The Presidency reflects the mix of who is in the White House when the survey is taken with that president's agenda and response to major events which may impose their own agenda (wars, recessions, natural disasters). .

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 38 - (Great Deal 16 + Quite a Lot 22)
2021 OVERALL: 67 - including 29 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 29 / None: 4
MEDIAN SCORE: 39 (over 31 years)
FIRST Score: 72 (1991) - Gallup added The Presidency at the high point of confidence in the presidency of George H. W. Bush
LATEST Score: 39 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 34 points DOWN
LOW Score: 25 (2007) - near the end of George W. Bush's second term as the War on Terror was becoming unpopular as it dragged on and before the housing bubble reached the bursting point that led to the Great Recession.
HIGH Score: 72 (1991) - George H. W. Bush was in the White House, savoring high levels of confidence as the American military drove Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait in the 100-day Operation Desert Storm.
SPAN, Low-to-High: 47 points

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Rank 7 2021: Organized Religion

ORGANIZED RELIGION - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Strong Majority through 2000, then Steadily Declining into Minority
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Strong but Steadily Declining Majority

Confidence in Organized Religion kept the institution at or near the top of the rankings for many years, but scandals beginning in the 1990s and the steady beat of cultural change has brought considerable erosion in that confidence. This year it dropped to its lowest rank, at Number 7, but the Confidence Score of 37 was one point higher than the low of 36 in 2019, a result of the "COVID bump" in 2020. While the Confidence Score has dropped 32 points in nearly 50 years, Overall (including "some") remains about 70, losing 19 points since 1973. The biggest challenge for Organized Religion is "The Rise of the Nones," those who profess no religious affiliation, which is particularly strong among the youngest age cohorts.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 37 - (nearly even: Great Deal 19 + Quite a Lot 18)
2021 OVERALL: 71 - including 34 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 26 / None: 3
MEDIAN SCORE: 56 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 65 (1973)
LATEST Score: 37 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 28 points DOWN
LOW Score: 36 (2019) - the end of an accelerated decline in the last decade came to halt with a noticeable bump upward in 2020 (the same "COVID bump" that hit other institutions in the early months of the pandemic (remember, results are published in July each year).
HIGH Score: 68 (1975) - for its first decade in the survey Organized Religion stayed above 60. After that it only came near that mark two more times, 1991 and 2001 (before the September 11 attacks)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 32 points

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Rank 8 2021: The Supreme Court

THE SUPREME COURT- In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Strong Minority, but Weakening
OVERALL (Including "Some"):Fairly Steady, Solid Majority throughout

The Supreme Court has enjoyed majority confidence in the Gallup survey for only a short time in the 1980s, otherwise it was no lower than 40 only once until 2006, where it has remained between 30 and 40. Overall confidence has remained much higher and steadier, though that could be a reflection of the relative obscurity with which the court normally operates. To the average person in recent years it has risen to public awareness more for the increasingly partisan and contentious process of nominating new justices than for its legal opinions.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 36 - (Great Deal 13 + Quite a Lot 23)
2021 OVERALL: 78 - including 42 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 21 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 45 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 45 (1973)
LATEST Score: 36 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 9 points DOWN
LOW Score: 30 (2014)
HIGH Score: 56 (1985, 1988)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 26 points

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Rank 9 2021: Banks

BANKS - In the survey since 1979 (43 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Confidence takes a hit with each recession, then recovers
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Follows Confidence level with little moderation

Recessions are part of life and banks—big banks in particular—along with the Federal government, play a major part, so public confidence in Banks rises and falls with economic cycles. Following the recession of 1981, during the Reagan administration, confidence rose but leveled off. The recession of 1991 was deeper and the recovery during the Clinton administration more robust, continuing to a peak in 2005 during the George W. Bush administration that rose slightly higher than the recovery in the 1980s. Then the bottom fell out with the Great Recession of 2009, with recovery of confidence more evident during the second Obama term and into the Trump administration, with an upward spike of 8 points in 2020, the year of COVID and the contentious presidential election. For the 2021 survey, the early months of the Biden administration, confidence slipped back by five points, still better than any year since the bottom of 21 points in 2012. While the "Some" responses for other institutions show a moderating influence that tends to keep Overall response relatively high and steady, that is not the case with Banks, where the Some rise and fall almost with equal intensity in sync with the Great Deal and Quite a Lot responses.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 33 - (Great Deal 12 + Quite a Lot 21)
2021 OVERALL: 75 - including 42 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 23 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 41 (over 43 years)
FIRST Score: 60 (1979)
LATEST Score: 33 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 27 points DOWN
LOW Score: 21 (2012)-deepest point in the Great Recession, where the slide down started with an 8 point drop in 2007, followed by another 9 points in 2008, and another 10 points to 22 in 2009.
HIGH Score: 60 (1979) - introduction of Banks to the survey, toward the end of the Carter administration when inflation was soaring and before the low point of confidence in 1981 during the early months of the Reagan administration.
SPAN, Low-to-High: 39 points

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Rank 10 2021: Public Schools

PUBLIC SCHOOLS - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: From Clear Majority through 1970s, then Retaining a Fairly Solid Minority
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Slow Decline, but Retains Solid Majority

Public Schools enjoyed their highest Confidence in the first years in the Gallup survey, hitting a low point in 1983 before rebounding some through the 1980s, with a slow decline since then, with more pronounced ups and downs in the past decade. Overall confidence (including "Some") has fallen about 10 points, but actually show a slight increase since 2014. Public Schools, like several other institutions, experienced a "COVID bump" in 2020, rising 12 points to 41, then sliding back to 32 in 2021.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 32 - (Great Deal 13 + Quite a Lot 19)
2021 OVERALL: 71 - including 39 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 28 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 39 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 58 (1973)
LATEST Score: 32 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 26 points DOWN
LOW Score: 26 (2014)
HIGH Score: 62 (1975)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 36 points

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Rank 12 2021: Organized Labor

Large Tech, ranked #11, was added to the Gallup list in 2020, so there is no history yet for a trendline.

ORGANIZED LABOR - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Strong Minority in 1970s to Weaker Minority since then, with Upward Movement since 2007
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Solid Majority that Follows Variations in Confidence

Organized Labor, once the province of auto and steel workers, coal miners and truck drivers, has changed over recent decades, with many people associating it with school teachers, government employees and others in the public sector. In the period that Organized Labor has been included in the Gallup survey, it has received lukewarm support, with low Confidence numbers, but an overall majority when "some" responses are included. The gentle rolling support is interesting, with peaks around 1977, 2004, and 2020, pushing up against the valleys of 1981-83, 1993 and 2013. (Reagan's firing of the Air Traffic Controllers occurred in August 1981, after the 1981 survey was released—In this case the downward slide in Overall confidence started in 1977 and hit bottom in 1981, preceding the bottoming out of the Confidence Score at 26 in 1982 and 1983). While the Confidence Score rose to a recent high of 31 in 2020, it fell short of the 39 points in 1977. However, the Overall score (including "Some") hit a high of 76 in 2020, no doubt helped by the "COVID bump" though it had been rising steadily since 2015. Both Confidence and Overall scores came down 3 and 2 points respectively.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 28 - (Great Deal 12 + Quite a Lot 16)
2021 OVERALL: 74 - including 46 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 22 / None: 1
MEDIAN SCORE: 26 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 30 (1973)
LATEST Score: 28 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 2 points DOWN
LOW Score: 19 (2007, 2009)
HIGH Score: 39 (1977)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 20 points

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NOTE: From this point on, Confidence Scores for 2021 are at or below 25 and there is a tendency for Overall Scores (including "Some") to be approaching or below 50 (Majority).



Rank 13 2021: Newspapers

NEWSPAPERS - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Hit 50 in 1979, otherwise Slow and Steady Decline to low 20s
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Strong Majority through 2003, then Accelerating Decline approaching Minority

As with other institutions surveyed by Gallup, the public response to Newspapers tends to be lukewarm. Since the survey began in 1973, the Confidence Score broke into a Majority only once, at 51 in 1979, while the Overall Score (including "Some") has declined from a strong Majority around 80 as late as 2004 before descending into a steeper decline toward barely maintaining a majority by 2021. Of course, Newspapers have been in a desperate struggle for survival the entire time they have been in the Gallup survey, with ever more intense pressure as television network news became a factor during the Vietnam War (right before the Gallup institutional confidence survey began), followed by Cable news and the 24-hour news cycle in the 1990s, and Social Media in the 21st century. The competition for audience is intense, as is the question of truth and trustworthiness of the sources Americans use.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 21 - (Great Deal 8 + Quite a Lot 13)
2021 OVERALL: -71 including 35 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 39 / None: 4
MEDIAN SCORE: 33 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 39 (1973)
LATEST Score: 21 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 18 points DOWN
LOW Score: 20 (2016)
HIGH Score: 51 (1979)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 31 points

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Rank 14 2021: Criminal Justice System

THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM- In the survey since 1993 (29 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Weak Minority, with slight Arc upward through 2004, followed by return close to start
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Weak to Moderate Majority, peaking along with Confidence Score in 2004,

It could be worse. The Criminal Justice System was not highly regarded in 1993 when it was added to the Gallup survey and the Confidence Score in 2021 was 3 points higher! The Overall Score (including "Some") has been at or above 60 all but five years, when it was at above 50.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 20 - (Great Deal 7 + Quite a Lot 13)
2021 OVERALL: -58 including 38 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 39 / None: 3
MEDIAN SCORE: 24 (over 29 years)
FIRST Score: 17 (1993)
LATEST Score: 20 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 3 points UP
LOW Score: 15 (1993)
HIGH Score: 34 (2004)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 19 points

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Rank 15 2021: Big Business

BIG BUSINESS- In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE:: Not good to start with and continuing a slow decline
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Moderate Majority through 2000, then Dropped Significanlty with Erratic performance since 2006 with weak Upward Trend

Confidence in Big Business has been lukewarm at best. Except for 7 years at or above 30, the Confidence Score was between 20 and 30 through 2001, then moved closer to 20. The biggest dip came with a 12 point drop from 1979 to the 1981 recession. The Overall Score (including "Some") has been in the 60 to 70 range except for the 1981 recession when it dipped below 60. That means that for most years only a quarter or less of respondents expressed a "Great Deal" or "Quite a Lot" of confidence while a third of respondents had "Some" confidence in Big Business. That leaves 30-40% of respondents expressing Little or No confidence in Big Business for nearly 50 years.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 18 - (Great Deal 9 + Quite a Lot 9)
2021 OVERALL: -59 including 41 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 38 / None: 3
MEDIAN SCORE: 24 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 26 (1973)
LATEST Score: 18 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 8 points DOWN
LOW Score: 16 (2009)
HIGH Score: 34 (1975)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 18 points

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Rank 16 2021: Television News

Television News - In the survey since 1993 (29 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Steady Decline from Solid to Weak Minority
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Strong Majority through 2004, then Steady Decline, Falling into Minority

More than half of respondents in 2021 had Little or No confidence in Television News. Even though TV News was itself one of the competitors that caused Newspapers to struggle, TV News itself has been on the skids in terms of confidence. It leads to the question, "what news sources are people confident in?" The troubling answer is that when people no longer trust major news organizations, they turn to alternate sources that appeal to an increasingly fragmented audience that has only its own standards of credibility—Social Media, "News" Feeds, even Entertainment channels and Comedy Shows! Heaven help us!

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 16 - (Great Deal 6 + Quite a Lot 10)
2021 OVERALL: -36 including 30 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 48 / None: 5
MEDIAN SCORE: 27 (over 29 years)
FIRST Score: 46 (1993)
LATEST Score: 16 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 30 points DOWN
LOW Score: 16 (2021)
HIGH Score: 46 (1973)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 30 points

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Rank 17 2021: Congress

Congress - In the survey from the beginning in 1973 (49 years)

TREND
CONFIDENCE SCORE: Erratic Decline from Strong to Weak Minority
OVERALL (Including "Some"): Equally Erratic Decline from Strong Majority to Minority, with more pronounced Upward Trend than is apparent in Confidence Score since 2016

While Congress ended up in last place by Confidence Score in 2021, in some respects it is a more mixed bag than Television News which has declined more steadily. Congress looks like a wounded beast trying to hang on. While the Confidence Score for Congress has almost faded out after years of struggle, the "Some" respondents have kept the Overall Score above water and has actually rebounded some since 2014.

DETAIL
2021 Confidence SCORE: 12 - (Great Deal 5 + Quite a Lot 7)
2021 OVERALL: -49 including 37 Some
2021 WEAK Confidence: Little: 47 / None: 4
MEDIAN SCORE: 24 (over 49 years)
FIRST Score: 42 (1973)
LATEST Score: 12 (2021)
SPAN, First-to-Latest: 30 points DOWN
LOW Score: 7 (2014)
HIGH Score: 42 (1993)
SPAN, Low-to-High: 35 points

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Home | About | Religion in America | InfoMatters Blog
Resouce Center |  Contact Us
©2021 Stuart Johnson & Associates