The lead Gallup chooses for their latest institutional confidence survey is that Americans have a low regard for Congress, which may have been breaking news a few decades ago. Congress finishes dead last in the poll, with only 11% expressing significant confidence in the national legislature — a finding which should have Democrats worried about the upcoming midterms. Congress dropped six points off of its, ahem, peak of 2009, but the biggest loser is on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, as PoliPundit notes:
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.
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%.
Gallup doesn’t chart the presidential confidence level over the same period of time it does with Congress. The highest Congressional level in the last 10 years was 30%, but it would be interesting to see how Bush fared in that same period. Something tells me it took him a little longer to get down to 26% and on a gentler slope than the 15% drop in a year Obama has had.
There are a lot of ironies in this poll, but consider this. Obama and Congress spent nine months overhauling the American health care system to rid us of Tonsil Vultures and Foot Fiends. Yet the public has more confidence in the medical system (40%) even after a year of demonization than the President (36%) and Congress (11%). That might also explain the beating Democrats will get in the midterms.