a curious Yankee in Europe's court

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What sector of their society do Americans have the most confidence in?

Posted on the November 30th, 2007

The U.S. military, according to a recent Harvard University study. The national survey gave those in uniform a ranking of 3.15 out of a maximum possible rating of 4. Who scores the lowest among the twelve sectors listed? The press, with 2.26, ranking just below the White House which got a 2.43. (Note: graph values: 2 = not much; 3 = moderate amount; 4 = great deal)

The September 2007 study was based on interviews with 1,207 adults in the U.S., according to the report (“A National Study of Confidence in Leadership,” by the Center for Public Leadership, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2007). The annual study (begun in 2005) primarily seeks to measure Americans’ confidence in leadership, and is conducted in collaboration with the weekly news magazine U.S. News & World Report.

For a brief summary of the findings, go here (“Study: More Than 60% Don’t Trust Campaign Coverage,” by Joe Strupp, Editor & Publisher, Nov 28, 2007) where I first read about this survey.

In its introduction, the Harvard report states that more than 75 percent of those surveyed believe there is a leadership crisis in the country, with 50 percent describing their confidence in their leaders as “not much” or “none at all.” A related question asked whether the U.S. has worse leaders today than twenty years ago. In response, 63 percent said they believed today’s leaders are worse, 12 percent said the quality of leadership is the same, and 7 percent said they weren’t sure.

In an exhibition of that famed Yankee optimism, however, almost eight in ten of those surveyed said they were confident that the next president — whether Democrat or Republican — will be good for the country, according to the study.

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