Poll shows Americans stingy with confidence

WASHINGTON — Glum and distrusting, a majority of Americans today are very confident in — nobody.

Of what confidence there is in institutions, the military and small business are at the top in an Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll released Thursday. But even they get very-confident or better ratings from well under half the people.

Blogs, banks and Congress get the most distrust.

What would people change if they were in charge? The poll found growing sentiment for legal protections for same-sex couples, with 58 percent saying they should have the same government benefits as married heterosexuals and nearly as many backing federal recognition of gay marriage. Respondents overwhelmingly opposed a stronger federal hand in two other areas: enhancing presidential powers to bolster the economy and requiring people to buy health insurance, as this year's health care overhaul law does.

Out of 18 fixtures on the American scene, none won the strong faith of even half the country. The military did best, with 43 percent saying they are extremely or very confident in it, and small business and science were the only others to garner solid trust from at least 3 in 10 people.

On the flip side, 54 percent said they have little or no confidence in blogs and other citizen media, 52 percent said the same about banks and financial firms and 49 percent said so about Congress.

The survey, conducted last month, conforms with others detecting a general glumness as this fall's congressional elections approach. While analysts say the discontent is largely fed by the prolonged economic downturn, the AP-NCC poll suggests a broader angst, with public confidence lagging in many of society's pillars.

"Does anybody have common sense anymore?" said Rosanne Favaloro, 53, of Lebanon, Pa. "Is anybody worried about the middle-class family anymore? I wonder."