Military Takes Top U.S. Confidence Rankings

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2011 — Amer­i­cans con­tin­ue to express high con­fi­dence in the armed forces, with more than three-quar­ters of those sur­veyed in a recent Gallup poll report­ing high­er con­fi­dence in the mil­i­tary than in oth­er nation­al insti­tu­tions for the 14th con­sec­u­tive year.

Sev­en­ty-eight per­cent of the 1,020 respon­dents in the poll, tak­en ear­li­er this month and released last week, report­ed high esteem for the mil­i­tary.

Forty-sev­en per­cent said they have a “great deal” of con­fi­dence in the mil­i­tary, the high­est rat­ing, and 31 per­cent report­ed “quite a lot” of con­fi­dence. That rat­ing was 14 per­cent high­er than for the sec­ond-rank­ing insti­tu­tion, small busi­ness, and 22 per­cent high­er than for the third-rank­ing insti­tu­tion, the police.

Oth­er orga­ni­za­tions rank­ings, in descend­ing order of high con­fi­dence, were: orga­nized reli­gion, 48 per­cent; the med­ical sys­tem, 39 per­cent; the U.S. Supreme Court, 37 per­cent; the pres­i­den­cy, 35 per­cent; the pub­lic schools, 34 per­cent; the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, 28 per­cent; news­pa­pers, 28 per­cent; tele­vi­sion news, 27 per­cent; banks, 23 per­cent; orga­nized labor, 21 per­cent; big busi­ness, 19 per­cent; and health main­te­nance orga­ni­za­tions, 19 per­cent. Con­gress received the low­est high-con­fi­dence rank­ing, at 12 per­cent.

The mil­i­tary has been the top-ranked nation­al insti­tu­tion every year since 1998, and also from 1989 to 1996, Gallup offi­cials report­ed.

Con­fi­dence lev­els in most of the insti­tu­tions polled this year were below his­tor­i­cal aver­ages, with the notable excep­tion of the mil­i­tary. The 78 per­cent mil­i­tary con­fi­dence rank­ing for 2011 was 11 points above the his­tor­i­cal aver­age.

Pub­lic con­fi­dence in the mil­i­tary tends to run high when the Unit­ed States is active­ly engaged in mil­i­tary oper­a­tions, offi­cials said, cit­ing the all-time 85-per­cent high con­fi­dence rank­ing in ear­ly 1991 just after the first Per­sian Gulf War end­ed. Rat­ings have ranged between 69 per­cent and 82 per­cent over the last decade dur­ing U.S. mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in Afghanistan and Iraq, offi­cials report­ed.

Anoth­er Gallup poll, also con­duct­ed ear­li­er this month and released June 21, demon­strat­ed that Amer­i­cans con­sid­er the ground forces most essen­tial to nation­al defense. Twen­ty-five per­cent of the 1,020 adults sur­veyed ranked the Army the most impor­tant ser­vice, up from 18 per­cent in 2001. The Marine Corps ranked sec­ond this year, at 24 per­cent, up from 14 per­cent in 2001.

Sev­en­teen per­cent of respon­dents called the Air Force the most impor­tant ser­vice branch to nation­al defense, com­pared to 42 per­cent in 2001; 11 per­cent cit­ed the Navy, com­pared to 15 per­cent in 2001; and 3 per­cent cit­ed Coast Guard, which was not includ­ed in the 2001 sur­vey.

Forty-six per­cent of the respon­dents named the Marine Corps the most pres­ti­gious branch of the armed forces. The Army ranked sec­ond, at 22 per­cent; fol­lowed by the Air Force, at 15 per­cent; the Navy, at 8 per­cent; and the Coast Guard, at 2 per­cent.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)