Gallup's 2010 Confidence in Institutions poll puts the United States Congress in last place among 16 institutions rated this year with the lowest numbers since the poll was instituted in 1973. The Gallup poll was conducted July 8-11, before Congress passed the financial regulatory reform bill, which President Obama signed into law this week.
Eleven percent of Americans surveyed said "they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress." This is the lowest rating for Congress in the history of the survey - down from 17 percent in 2009 and one percentage point lower than the previous low for Congress, recorded in 2008.
The polling data shows that Congress has some serious image problems in this election cycle, with a majority of Americans saying that they have "very little" or "no confidence in" lawmakers. Half of Americans believe that Congress is ineffective, up from 38 percent in 2009. It should be noted that the poll does not distinguish between party, so partisans will have to inject their own special brand of hyperbole when they are using the poll to beat the other side over the head with the numbers.
The president's approval rating is also on the decline - a 15-point drop in high confidence in the presidency, to 36 percent from 51 percent in June 2009. President Barack Obama's approval rating fell by 11 points, from 58 percent to 47 percent in the same period - but Gallup is quick to point out that during the last year of President George W Bush's term the number was 26 percent.
Unfortunately, the poll did not include specific government agencies like the FCC, FTC, and Homeland Security.
Results for this Gallup poll are "based on telephone interviews conducted July 8-11, 2010, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling," according to Gallup. A full accounting of its polling methodology is available on its website.