Military Tops Public Confidence List in New Gallup Poll

Military Tops Public Confidence List in New Gallup Poll (American Forces Press Service)

The American public has more confidence in the military than in any other institution, according to a Gallup poll released this week. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed in Gallup’s 2005 confidence poll said they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the military – more than in a full range of other government, religious, economic, medical, business and news organizations.

The poll, conducted between May 23 and 26, involved telephone interviews with a randomly selected sample of 1,004 people 18 and older, Gallup officials said. Those surveyed expressed strong confidence in the military, with 42 percent expressing “a great deal” of confidence in the military and 32 percent, “quite a lot” of confidence. Eighteen percent said they have “some” confidence, 7 percent, “very little,” and 1 percent, “none.”

Public confidence in the military jumped following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has remained consistently high, Gallup officials noted. The 2002 survey reflected a 13 percent increase in confidence in the military over the previous year’s poll. The public expressed a 79 percent high-confidence rate in the military in 2002, an 82 percent rate in 2003, and a 75 percent rate in 2004.

This year’s 74 percent confidence level exceeded that of all 15 institutions included in the 2005 survey. Police ranked second, with 63 percent of responders expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them. Organized religion rated third, with 53 percent of responders expressing high confidence, and banks rated a 49 percent high-confidence rate.

Considering the wave after wave of bad press resulting from the Abu Ghraib and Gitmo scandals, this is impressive, indeed. Apparently, most Americans understand that most service members are honorable professionals putting themselves in harm’s way for their country and that the reason outrageous behavior makes the news is because they’re exceptions to the norm. One sometimes wonders if our journalists have the same sense of perspective.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.