WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are now less likely to express “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the U.S. military, with a noticeable decline that has persisted for the past five years. The latest numbers are from a June 1-22 Gallup poll that also captured record lows in public confidence in several public institutions.
At 60%, confidence in the military was last this low in 1997, and it hasn’t been lower since 1988, when 58% were confident. From the late 1970s to the early 1980s -- during the Cold War and amid threats to U.S. power, including the Iran hostage crisis -- between 50% and 58% of Americans were confident in the military. Confidence generally improved during Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s. It then surged after the Gulf War victory (to a record-high 85% in 1991) and again after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Confidence generally held above 70% for the next two decades, until dipping to 69% in 2021 and declining further since then, following the poorly executed exit from Afghanistan.
Throughout nearly all of the past 48 years, Republicans have been the most likely to express confidence in the military, and they remain so today -- but the rate has declined by over 20 percentage points in three years, from 91% to 68%.
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