US Congress members less trustworthy than anyone except telemarketers, poll says

62% of American respondents said that members of US Congress were of poor ethics and integrity – higher than any other profession a new Gallup poll analyzed.

The full moon rises behind the US Capitol Dome in Washington  (photo credit: REUTERS)
The full moon rises behind the US Capitol Dome in Washington
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Members of the US Congress are seen as the second-least trustworthy profession in the US – lower than car salespeople and business executives and considered just 2% more trustworthy than telemarketers, according to a new Gallup poll

The poll, which surveyed 1,020 adults between Nov. 9 and Dec. 22, showed that just 7% of respondents said the ethical standards of their elected representatives are “high,” while merely 2% say the ethical integrity of their elected officials are “very high.”

25% of respondents also gave congress members the lowest possible ethics grade of “very low” – the same figure telemarketers received and far worse than other professions analyzed by the Gallup poll. A total of 62% of respondents said members of congress were "low" or "very low," while just 28% said "average" – the lowest "average" score among all 18 professions analyzed.

What was considered the most trustworthy profession?

 Americans' Ratings of Honesty and Ethics of Professions. (credit: GALLUP) Americans' Ratings of Honesty and Ethics of Professions. (credit: GALLUP)

Nurses were far and away the most trustworthy profession in the poll, with 79% of respondents grading the ethics of nurses as “very high” or “high” and just 4% of respondents saying they distrust nurses. Doctors saw 63% of respondents grade their ethics as “very high” or “high,” while 10% of respondents said they distrust doctors. 

Pharmacists, high school teachers and police officers joined doctors and nurses as the only profession to score “very high” or “high” among respondents at least 50% of the time. While not seen as of particularly high ethics, accountants were third to only nurses and pharmacists in distrust – just 7% of respondents said accountants had “low” or “very low” ethics, compared to 20% for bankers.

Partisan differences

Among the highly-politicized American discourse lie partisan differences in what professions are seen as trustworthy. 73% of left-leaning respondents said high school teachers had “very high” or “high” ethics – compared to just 37% of right-leaning respondents. Left-wing respondents were also more likely to trust the ethics of medical professionals, such as nurses, doctors and pharmacists. 

Conversely, right-leaning respondents were more likely to grade police officers, religious clergy and business professionals as trustworthy. 62% of right-wing respondents said police officers were of “very high” or “high” ethics – compared to just 38% of left-leaning respondents.

Amid the heightened politicization of US issues, both democrats and republicans were able to see eye to eye regarding members of the US congress – members Americans themselves elect to serve in higher office, oftentimes due to their perceived integrity. While just 10% of left-leaning respondents said congresspeople had “very high” or “high” ethics, just 8% of right-leaning respondents agreed with the statement.