Confidence in one of the most trusted institutions in the United States, the military, has fallen to its lowest point in more than 25 years, according to a new poll by Gallup.
On Monday, Gallup shared the results of a June poll, which found about 60 percent of U.S. adults who were surveyed expressed either a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the U.S. military, while the remainder expressed "very little" or only "some" confidence in the military. This figure marks the lowest level of confidence in the U.S. military since 1997.
The drop in support was most significant among respondents who identified as Republican. Since Gallup began polling trust in the military in 1975, Republicans have typically held the highest degree of confidence in the U.S. military. In the final year of President Donald Trump's presidency, 91 percent of Republican respondents had expressed moderate to high confidence in the military. Now only 68 percent of Republican respondents feel that way, a 23-point drop.
The U.S. military also lost a significant measure of trust and confidence from independent voters. In 2019, 73 percent of independents felt a moderate to high confidence in the military, but that number fell to 68 percent in 2020 and has since dropped an additional 13 points.
Democratic confidence in the military has not seen much resurgence since President Joe Biden took office. During Mr. Trump's term, the portion of Democrats who had moderate to high confidence in the military fell from 69 percent in 2016 to a low point of 58 percent in 2019. Just 61 percent of Democratic respondents had moderate to high confidence in the military near the end of Mr. Trump's presidency in 2020. Democratic confidence in the military did rise in the first two years of Mr. Biden's presidency, up to 68 percent last year, but has fallen back down to 62 percent this year. Democratic confidence in the military was higher in 2017 and 2018 under Mr. Trump than it is now.
While trust in the military has reached a low point not seen in a quarter century, the military still remains one of the most trusted institutions in the country. In fact, the military was second only to small businesses as the most trusted institution, with 65 percent of respondents expressing a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in those businesses.
Twenty-six percent of respondents expressed a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the presidency, placing that institution alongside public schools, banks, and big tech companies in terms of public trust, while 14 percent of respondents shared a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in big businesses and just 8 percent felt the same about Congress.
Declining Trust in Military
The Gallup poll did not include additional questions about what is contributing to the loss of confidence in the military.
Other recent polling has also indicated a loss of confidence in the U.S. military. In February of last year, the Pew Research Center published results (pdf) finding 74 percent of respondents had at least a fair amount of confidence that the U.S. military's ability to act in the best interests of the U.S. public. That number was down from 83 percent who felt the same way in November of 2020.
In November of last year, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation published its National Defense Survey results (pdf) for 2022, finding just 48 percent of respondents had "a great deal" of trust and confidence in the military. Seventy percent of respondents had felt "a great deal" of trust and confidence in the military in 2018 when the Reagan Foundation first began the survey, showing a 22-point drop.
Sixty-two percent of respondents in the Reagan Foundation survey said military leadership becoming overly politicized contributed to their declining confidence. Those concerns about politicization were held by 60 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 65 percent of Republicans. Fifty percent of that survey's respondents blamed "wokeness" in the military for hurting their confidence, while 46 percent said "far-right or extremist individuals" hurt their confidence in the military.
Fifty-nine percent of the respondents in the Reagan Foundation survey said the performance and competence of the president had decreased their confidence in the military.
The military struggled to reach its recruiting goals last year.
The U.S. Navy hit its recruiting goal for active-duty enlisted personnel but missed its goals for recruiting new active and reserve officers and reserve enlisted personnel. The U.S. Air Force also met its active-duty recruiting goals but missed its recruiting goals for the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.
The U.S. Army saw the biggest miss of all branches last year, with the service falling 15,000 recruits short of its 60,000 recruit goal for fiscal year 2022—a 25 percent shortfall.
In April, Army, Navy and Air Force leaders predicted they could miss their recruiting goals again this year, the Military Times reported.