In 1973, Gallup began asking Americans the following question:

Now I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one -- a great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little?

The first year, 42 percent answered “a great deal” or "quite a lot" regarding Congress.

This month, confidence in Congress dropped to 7 percent, an all-time low.

Source: Gallup
Source: Gallup

Per Gallup (emphasis is mine):

Americans' current confidence in Congress is not only the lowest on record, but also the lowest Gallup has recorded for any institution in the 41-year trend.

Whether it's about gridlock, the lack of bipartisanship, crumbling and neglected infrastructure, student loans or Iraq, Americans are annoyed with Congress. Even though we are more polarized than ever, we expect better from our elected leaders in Washington. At the very least, we hope for some adult supervision.

A consensus has been developing, though, and one party is getting most of the criticism. Some place the blame on the recent radical takeover of the Republican Party but this partisan rancor goes back long before the presidencies of Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

I don't expect to see much retribution from voters in November. Congressional districts have become so gerrymandered -- yet another failure by the Supreme Court -- that incumbents, who manage to get through their primaries unscathed, are almost sure to win in general elections.

None of this matters, though. The public is thoroughly disgusted with Congress. If only they could do something about it.

To contact the author of this article: Barry Ritholtz at

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Alex Bruns at