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Very Few Americans Think Members of Congress Have High Ethical Standards, New Poll Shows

Carolyn Kaster

The 118th Congress in the United States began this month after the midterm elections last November. In the first week, members of the House of Representatives went through 15 rounds of voting to elect a speaker of the House, which ended up being Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Now, a new poll has come out showing what Americans think of the ethical and honesty standards of members of Congress.

Only telemarketers are ranked lower than members of Congress for honesty and ethical standards by Americans, a Gallup poll released Tuesday shows. 

In the findings, only 10 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents and 8 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents said that they think that members of Congress have high honesty and ethical standards. 

Broken down, 2 percent of respondents said that members of Congress have “very high” ethical standards. Seven percent said “high,” 28 percent said “average,” 37 percent said “low” and 25 percent said “very low.”

In the findings, only 6 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents and 6 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents said they think telemarketers have high ethical standards, making it the lowest in the survey.

At the top of the list, 86 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents and 76 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents said they think nurses have high honesty and ethical standards. 

Democrats and Republicans are “similar” when it comes to some professions, but differ greatly on others: 

While Democrats and Republicans offer similarly tepid ethics scores for judges and accountants, they diverge sharply in their views of several other professions. Democrats (73%) are about twice as likely as Republicans (37%) to believe high school teachers have high ethical standards. Democrats are also far more likely than Republicans to believe labor union leaders and journalists act ethically.

For their part, Republicans (62%) are far more positive than Democrats (38%) about police officers’ ethics. Republicans, too, are slightly more likely than Democrats to rate clergy members highly.

According to the New York Post, firefighters got a record-high rating in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. Nurses reportedly got their highest rating in 2020 at 89 percent. 

While the numbers for nurses, medical doctors and pharmacists generally remains high, each of these fields have lower scores now than before the pandemic.

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