mericans' confidence in Congress has fallen to an all-time low, according to a Gallup poll released Friday.
In the survey, only 10 percent of respondents said they had a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the legislature, down from 13 percent the year before. It's also the lowest level Gallup has found since the firm began polling the question in 1973.
A 52 percent majority, meanwhile, said they had either "very little" or no confidence in Congress.
That measly showing put the legislature dead last on a list of 16 governmental and social institutions for the fourth year running.
Respondents had more confidence in big business (22 percent), banks (26 percent), and both TV news outlets and newspapers (23 percent each). And though polls have found Americans generally leery of the Affordable Care Act, Gallup found 19 percent of respondents had a lot of confidence in HMOs, while 35 percent had confidence in the medical system as a whole.
What's more, Americans' low level of confidence in Congress was the worst Gallup had ever found for any institution.
That finding complements other recent surveys that have pegged Congress' approval rating in the low teens. A Public Policy Polling survey from January determined Congress was less popular than cockroaches, Nickelback, carnies, traffic jams, and Donald Trump. Congress did, however, beat out Lindsay Lohan in that poll.
The primary cause for Congress' dismal approval rating: Partisan bickering and legislative gridlock. According to another recent Gallup survey, six in ten Americans who disapproved of Congress cited that body's ineffectiveness as the main reason they gave it low marks.
Though Americans have been down on Congress as a whole, they've generally felt good about their individual representatives. That helps explain the high incumbency rate; in the last election, 90 percent of incumbents won reelection. Ironically enough, it also explains continued gridlock. As the old adage goes, in a democracy you get the government you deserve.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Texas Republicans may want to cool the anti-Obama land-grab talk
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- How to make perfect fried rice in 6 easy steps
- Obama doesn't have a manhood problem — but conservatives certainly do
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Why we need a maximum wage
Subscribe to the Week