Americans trust the judicial branch most and the legislative least of the three branches of government, with trust in the executive branch falling in between these two. Trust in all three branches is up slightly this year, but from a longer-term perspective, the legislative branch has lost by far the most trust over the last 10 years.
Gallup's latest update on trust in the branches of government was included in its Sept. 6-9 Governance survey. The data reflect the same general pattern that has been evident since 2009 -- with the judicial branch on top, the legislative branch on the bottom, and the executive branch in the middle. All three branches are slightly more trusted this year than last.
Earlier this month, Gallup reached a similar finding about approval of Congress:
Thirteen percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, the lowest Gallup has measured this late in an election year. The prior lows were 18% in 1992, 2008, and 2010.
In election years in which congressional approval has been low in the months leading up to Election Day, there has generally been higher turnover of seats in Congress. Another factor that may promote higher turnover in this year's congressional elections is the redistricting of all 435 seats after the 2010 census. In 1992, a year in which Congress was unpopular and incumbents seeking re-election were running in newly redrawn districts, more than 100 new members of Congress were elected. That compares with 53 new members after the 2002 elections, the last elections that followed redistricting, but a time when Congress was much more popular.