March 24, 2023

Analysis: Americans are most divided over this one institution

There’s a whopping 49-point difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to confidence in the presidency. Among Democrats, 61% say they have confidence in the president, while a meager 13% of Republicans say they have confidence in the highest office in the land. 

The poll gauged confidence in America’s major institutions like the police, Congress, the criminal justice system and organized religion. All have partisan splits, but none as great as the divide over the presidency.

Here’s how Gallup’s Megan Brenan puts it:

Confidence in the presidency has become increasingly linked to the party affiliation of the president, with supporters of the president’s party much more confident than supporters of the opposition party, consistent with the greater party polarization in presidential job approval ratings. Between 1993 and 2004, the average party gap in confidence in the presidency was 34 points. Since then, it has averaged 50 points.
That tracks! This stark polarization is playing out in other aspects of our lives. Just look at a state-based map of vaccinated Americans next to the 2020 presidential election results. There’s a real connection between Trump-supporting states and lower rates of vaccination compared with Biden-supporting states with higher rates of vaccination.
But that polarization goes far, far beyond Covid-19. Some red states are passing laws to restrict voting rights while blue states move in the opposite direction. Other red-state governors have sent National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border as immigration continues to be a hot-button issue on the state level. Then there’s legislation to counter the GOP’s lighting-rod social issues like critical race theory and transgender representation in sports

This poll is just the latest example that Americans with different political affiliations have increasingly divergent views on … just about everything.

The Point: This goes to show President Joe Biden faces major (and worsening) inertia in his efforts to unite the country. He has a lot of work to do specifically to overcome that lack of confidence from Republicans.

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