The poll was conducted Sept. 4-12, while initial hearings were being held on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court but before news stories surfaced concerning accusations that he had committed sexual assault as a teenager in 1982. Hearings last week on that allegation have erupted into a partisan battle that has left Democratic and Republican senators accusing each other of subverting the nomination process to score political points.

In the early September poll, Gallup asked respondents, “How much trust and confidence do you have in general in men and women in political life in this country?” The increase this year in those expressing a “great deal” (6%) or “fair amount” (49%) of confidence pushed the combined total above 50% for the first time since it stood at a near-record high of 66% in September 2008. The question was asked three times in the 1970s, twice in the 1990s, and every year since 2001 except 2006. The highest combined “great deal” and “fair amount” total across the entire span of the trend was 68% measured in 1974, and the lowest was 42% in 2016.