American trust in the legislative branch of government is on an upward climb as trust in the executive branch dips.
A new Gallup poll released Monday found that trust in the legislative branch has hit its highest point in nine years, with 40% of those surveyed saying they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in it. This is the first time in a decade that trust in the legislative branch has reached the level of trust seen in the executive branch, which currently has a 42% confidence rating. The judicial branch is the most widely trusted, with a 68% confidence rating.
While this jump represents a significant increase in trust in the legislative branch from the 35% seen last year, it remains low compared to historic averages. According to Gallup, which has measured trust in the three branches of government since 1972, the historic average in the last 40-odd years has been 50%. The rating never fell below 50% between 1997 and 2007, but has consistently fallen below that number in the 10 years since.
Nevertheless, this increase in trust is not felt on both sides of the aisle. The higher confidence rating is solely a result of growing trust from Republicans and Republican-leaning independents; the numbers haven’t budged since last year among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. By party, 49% of Republicans trust Congress, while just 34% of Democrats responded similarly.
Meanwhile, trust in the executive branch has dipped from the historical average of 54%. The current 42% confidence rating is just barely higher than the historic low of 40% seen during the Watergate scandal. It is, however, in line with several other recent low points, including three times under President George W. Bush and four times under President Barack Obama.