A series of national surveys conducted periodically by Gallup since the 1970s indicate that Americans have consistently rated the honesty and ethical standards of police officers higher than local officeholders, state officeholders, governors, and members of Congress.
In fact, according to historical data Gallup has posted online, in none of these surveys has any group of elected officeholders ever been rated higher than police officers for their honesty and ethical standards.
Gallup has asked this question in its surveys: “Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields–very high, high, average, low, or very low?”
The combined percentage of people who rate the honesty and ethical standards of police officers “very high” or “high” has never been lower than 37 percent—the level it hit in 1977, the first year Gallup asked this question about police officers.
Neither members of Congress, nor governors, nor state officeholders nor local officeholders have ever had a combined 37 percent of those surveyed say that their honesty and ethical standards were very high or high.
State governors got the highest combined “very high” and “high” rating for their honesty and ethics in 2000, when 31 percent of Americans surveyed rated them that way.
Thus the highest honesty and ethics rating Americans have ever given any group of elected officials in the Gallup survey—31 percent (saying they were “very high” or “high”)—was six points below the lowest rating they have ever given police—37 percent.
Gallup’s latest survey on this question, released on Dec. 18, did not ask about local officeholders, state officeholders and governors. But it did ask about police officers and members of Congress.
In this 2014 survey, 48 percent gave police officers a “very high” or “high” rating for honesty and ethics but only 7 percent gave members of Congress a “very high” or “high” rating. Thus, almost seven times as many Americans rated police officers as having “very high” or “high” honesty and ethical standards as rated members of Congress as having “very high” or “high” honesty and ethical standards.
Of the groups included in this year’s survey, three rated higher than police officers: nurses (80 percent); medical doctors (65 percent); and pharmacists (65 percent).
In the survey Gallup conducted on this question in December 2013, 54 percent gave police officers a “very high” or “high” rating for honesty and ethical standards, but only 23 percent gave those high ratings to local officeholders; only 14 percent to state officeholders; and only 8 percent to members of Congress.
The 2104 survey, says Gallup, was conducted Dec. 11-18, and interviewed a random sample of 805 adults 18 years and older living in the United States.