Most Alabama voters have confidence in the U.S. military, Fox cable TV news and the Red Cross, but their confidence in many national institutions, except the military, is falling, a statewide poll shows.
The Capital Survey Research Center, a division of the Alabama Education Association teachers lobby, surveyed 453 registered voters by phone March 7-8 and 12-15. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.
The poll, when compared to similar polls done by the center in June 2003 and April 1999, shows that Alabama voters have less confidence in many national institutions, organizations and leaders than they had eight years ago.
The biggest fall from 1999 to this month came for national corporations. The percentage of Alabama voters with some or a great deal of confidence in these businesses fell from 69 percent to 39 percent. The rest of those polled had little or no confidence, didn’t know or didn’t reply.
Gerald Johnson, who directs the polling center, said financial wrongdoing by companies such as Enron and HealthSouth likely played a big role in that drop.
Other big drops in confidence among Alabama voters across the eight years came for Congress, talk radio, the national Christian Coalition, Wall Street financial markets and TV news on ABC, CBS and NBC.
"Obviously, the confidence in almost everything has declined, except the military," said Brad Moody, a political scientist at Auburn University Montgomery.
Johnson noted the broad drop in confidence and said, "We’ve always been skeptical of Congress or politics and politicians. There’s always been a level of cynicism there. I think data like this indicate it’s much broader in society now. It’s almost across the board."
William Stewart, a professor emeritus and political scientist at the University of Alabama, said he wasn’t surprised that 91 percent of Alabama voters surveyed this month had some or a great deal of confidence in the military, compared to 92 percent in 1999.
"We have a tradition of respect for the military in Alabama, and patriotism," Stewart said.
Alabama voters, according to this month’s poll, also have some or a great deal of confidence in the Red Cross and other voluntary organizations (83 percent), Fox TV news (72 percent), federal programs such as Social Security (67 percent), the presidency (63 percent) and CNN cable TV news (62 percent).
But less than half, 47 percent, had some or a great deal of confidence in national newspapers such as USA Today and The New York Times.