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Americans have more confidence in military than any other institution

Marines with 3rd Platoon, Golf Company, return from a successful operation in Zamindawar, Afghanistan, on June 9, 2012.

Americans have the highest confidence in the U.S. military and practically none in Congress, according to a new Gallup poll.

The military, small businesses and local police generally enjoy the confidence of a majority of Americans but the rest can't even hit the 50 percent mark on the latest Gallup poll. And even those institutions have seen their ratings decline a bit for last year.

In all, seven institutions have lower confidence ratings this year than in 2011, five had slight upticks and four were unchanged. But "none of the 16 institutions tested this year saw significant increases in confidence compared with last year," Gallup said. "The biggest declines were for television news, the public schools and organized religion."

In fact, confidence in public schools hit a new low with a five percentage point drop in one year, Gallup said.

"Americans' confidence in many of the nation's key institutions remains shaky, including record-low confidence in public schools, banks, television news and organized religion this year," Gallup says. "The declining confidence seems to be part of a broader pattern, rather than a product of isolated issues facing individual institutions. Once Americans begin to feel better about the way things are going in the United States, some of their lost confidence in the country's major institutions will likely be restored."

Gallup has been measuring Americans' confidence in U.S. institutions since 1973, but many of the groups have been added to the question over the years, the most recent addition being health maintenance organizations in 1999.

The U.S. military has ranked first on the confidence list in every year but one since 1989. Small businesses edged out the military for first place in 1997.

The complete poll results are available at Gallup's website.

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