High Confidence

Forbes recently reported that consumer confidence was at a 16-year high.  They reasoned, “Consumer confidence is another one of those economic numbers which predicts our future for us.  A prediction which is a pretty good one too, for it’s self-fulfilling.  If consumer confidence is high, then people will spend their money.  And if people spend their money then demand is high, meaning we’re all gainfully employed making stuff for other people.  If that’s true, then we’re right to have high confidence.”

The consumer confidence index hit 125.6 in March according to data from the Conference Board, its highest since December 2000.  “Consumers feel current economic conditions have improved over the recent period, and their optimism suggests the possibility of some upside to the prospects for economic growth in coming months,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said .

In a recent Gallup Poll, U.S. confidence in newspapers is still low, but improving.  They report a long-range perspective, confidence in newspapers hasn’t been high at any point over the past thirty years – the highest was 39 percent up from 20 percent last year. In 2016, 28 percent of Democrats had a great deal of confidence in printed media, but that percentage rose to 46 percent this year.  Sixteen percent of Republicans last year had confidence. That figure for Republicans has dropped to 13 percent this year.

Gallup goes on to say that Americans are no more confident in television news than in newspapers.  As the line between news and opinion blurred on cable networks, 24 percent of U.S. adults say they possess confidence in television news.  Still this is up from the record low of 18 percent in 2014.

This year’s level of confidence in television news is almost half as high as it was the first-time Gallup asked this question in 1993 when it was 46 percent versus 24 percent today.

Another Gallup Poll reported American’s confidence in the nation’s major institutions has edged up in 2017.  The average percentage of Americans expressing a great deal of confidence in 14 institutions is at 35 percent, up from 31 percent in 2014.

Public schools rose 6 points  to 36 percent, banks were up 5 to 32 percent and the U.S. Supreme Court rose 4 to 40 percent.  Small business stayed at 70 percent and the military was the highest at 72 percent.  Bringing up the rear was news on the Internet at 16 percent and Congress at 12 percent.

The overall uptick Gallup reports is primarily the result of increased confidence among Republicans, paralleling the increased GOP optimism noted in economic confidence and satisfaction with the way things are going in the nation.

Confidence in institutions, according to political party, was fascinating to say the least.  It said 82 percent of Republicans had high confidence in the military versus 64 percent of Democrats.  For police, it was 73 percent versus 45 percent for Democrats.  For the presidency, Republicans were 60 percent versus 10 percent for the Democrats. Both parties were nearly equal for small business, U.S. Supreme Court, Criminal Justice System and banks. Only 12 percent of Republicans had confidence in newspapers versus 41 percent of Democrats.  The same was true for television news with Republicans at 14 percent and Democrats at 31 percent.

The big finding here is we are a divided nation with most Americans skeptical of most of our major institutions.

The standout is the dismal level of public confidence in Congress with only 12 percent of Americans respecting the institution.  Here is where America must come together and stop the infighting.  Our future depends on it.