How important is it to trust the government? Which public institutions have succeeded in securing that trust, and which have failed to capture the loyalty of the American people?

A recent Gallup poll asked Americans how much they trusted various institutions, such as public school systems and government entities, and compared the data to responses from previous years.

Here are the results, ranked from the least trusted to the most.

16 U.S. Congress
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 4 percent
Quite a lot: 3 percent

Trust in congress has reached new lows recently, and the Wall Street Journal claims it's at least partially due to Americans' perceptions of politicians.

"These days many incumbent politicians game the system, raising and spending huge sums to ensure their own reelection and creating rules that seriously disadvantage challengers–without doing much more than posturing once they gain the offices they fight so hard to keep," the Journal's Linda Killian wrote.

"Americans know this–and that’s why so few of them trust Congress."

15 Television news
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 10 percent
Quite a lot: 8 percent

"Increasingly for the last five to 10 years, media has become more fragmented," according to Democratic consultant Karen Finney, interviewed by Politico. According to Finney, the vast amounts of news sources available to people have changed how they view traditional news TV.

"It may not be about that people just don’t trust the evening news, it’s that they now can go get the news they want, wherever they want it, from whatever source they want, when they want it," Finney said. "I think people then self-select for the information that reinforces what they believe."

14 News on the internet
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 8 percent
Quite a lot: 11 percent

News outlets have politicized audiences, according to Gallup. Conservatives have more trust in TV news, with 21 percent of self-proclaimed conservatives trusting TV news and only 15 percent of liberals feeling the same way.

On the other end of the spectrum, 22 percent of liberals reported trusting online news, and 17 percent of their conservative counterparts said the same.

13 Big business
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 9 percent
Quite a lot: 12 percent

Big business is held in suspicion by both parties but particularly conservatives, according to the American Thinker. Writer Bruce Walker believes that the conservative distrust of big business has played a large role in their low trustworthiness.

"Most conservatives have grown to see giant corporations as fawning supplicants for adulation by the left," Walker wrote. "While conservatives certainly support businesses growing wealthy in the free market, it is small business that conservatives love and trust."

12 Organized labor
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 10 percent
Quite a lot: 12 percent

Unions, especially teacher's unions, are under attack by the left and the right, according to Salon.

Former Secretary of Education Rod Paige called teachers' unions "terrorist organizations," wrote Jeff Bryant of Salon. While Paige was pressured to resign after his comments and eventually did so, "The campaign against public school teachers and their unions has evolved from casting insults to inflicting real injury," Bryant wrote, citing the case Vergara v. California. The case determined that teachers' unions were unconstitutional and harmed underprivileged kids.

Meanwhile, where liberals might normally be the champions of unions, "when education policy is the matter at hand, liberals no longer know what they’re talking about," Bryant wrote, and they are no longer doing enough to protect these unions.

11 Newspapers
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 12 percent
Quite a lot: 10 percent

Faith in newspapers is failing as is the newspaper industry itself, according to Gallup.

There is a partisan and age gap in the amount of trust placed in newspapers, Gallup stated in 2013. 33 percent of Democrats expressed faith in the papers, while 16 percent of Republicans felt the same way.

Additionally, 18 to 29 year olds have the highest rate of trust in newspapers (30 percent) and 50 to 64 year olds have the lowest rate of trust (22 percent). Women trust newspapers at a rate of 5 percent more than men.

10 The criminal justice system
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 10 percent
Quite a lot: 13 percent

"The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population, and 25 percent of the world’s prison population," wrote Elizabeth English and Ryann Roberts of Fortune. The system is broken, they argued, and it is costing millions in tax dollars as well as human capital.

"Our nation’s incarceration policies are in need of serious reform, and millennials need to drive the change," they concluded. "After all, young people, in particular, have a stake in the future of incarceration."

9 Banks
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 10 percent
Quite a lot: 16 percent

The number of Americans expressing a "great deal" of confidence in banks dropped 15 percentage points from its pre-recession polling in June of 2007, according to the financial news site Investors.

Banks will have to act less recklessly and take less dangerous loans if they ever expect to earn American trust back, according to the site.

8 Public schools
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 12 percent
Quite a lot: 14 percent

While William Galston of PBS News believes that not all U.S. public schools are as badly mismanaged as some would describe, he states that public schools, especially underfunded ones, do have serious problems. The more people see these problems, the lower public trust becomes.

"Too many of the students in those (underfunded) schools are dropping out well before high school graduation," he wrote.

"Too many are being left unprepared for the world of work. Too many are being left unprepared to go on to higher education and advanced technical training. Those schools are indeed in crisis and they require emergency treatment."

7 The presidency
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 14 percent
Quite a lot: 15 percent

Current events have not been favorable to the White House, according to Becket Adams of the Washington Examiner.

"The White House's plunging confidence rating is directly linked to President Obama's handling of the burgeoning Department of Veterans Affairs scandal, the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups and his widely unpopular decision to trade Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who may have deserted his unit in 2009, for five top-ranking Taliban officers," Adams wrote.

"Despite the sharp decline in the White House’s approval rating, it doesn’t appear that the Obama administration is all that concerned with damage control," he continued.

"In fact, it was just last week at a high-roller fundraiser that the president scoffed at his critics in Congress, accusing Republican lawmakers of chasing 'phony scandals.'”

6 The U.S. Supreme Court
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 12 percent
Quite a lot: 18 percent

According to The Nation, much of the public distrust for the Supreme Court these days is due to partisanship.

"Although the justices often are divided into left-right ideological blocs, those blocs have recently become identified in the public mind with the Democratic and Republican parties," according to The Nation. "That, combined with a set of cases that bring partisan issues to the fore, may be leading the public to see the Court as part of the same Washington politics it deplores."

5 The medical system
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 17 percent
Quite a lot: 17 percent

Distrust in the medical system has had serious consequences in the United States, according to Newsweek.

Measles was at a 20-year high in May of 2014 with 288 known cases, the magazine reported, despite the disease being declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. This is in large part due to an anti-vaccination movement, where parents abstain from vaccinating their children for fear of side effects.

"Like many parents reluctant to immunize their children, Magee ( a mother in Mississippi) trusts her intuition (and information she finds on the Internet) over the advice of pediatricians," Newsweek wrote. "Although the vast majority of parents in the U.S. continue to vaccinate their children, exemption rates doubled between 2006 and 2011."

4 The church or organized religion
Wikimedia Commons

How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 25 percent
Quite a lot: 20 percent

More Americans report church attendance and a belief in God than citizens in almost any other Western country, according to a 2012 report by NPR, and yet trust in organized religion has waned in recent years. Some observers believe that trust in organized religion is very different from trust in God.

"Generally polls show that about 90 percent of Americans actually believe in God," wrote NPR correspondant Barbara Hagerty. "So what's happening here is a decline in the trust of religious organizations (only)."

3 The police
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 25 percent
Quite a lot: 28 percent

While it's good to trust the police, some commentators believe that trusting the police and the military more than the three branches of government is a dangerous sign.

This distribution of faith is "not exactly a healthy place to be in a constitutional republic," wrote Becket Adams of the Washington Examiner.

"Americans are losing faith in the ability of constitutional government to lead the nation. They don’t trust the White House, they don’t trust the Supreme Court and they certainly don’t trust Congress."

2 Small business
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 29 percent
Quite a lot: 33 percent

Small businesses have been a staple of the American economy for a long time, and have earned their own legislation, including the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the State Small Business Credit Initiative.

The State Small Business Credit Initiative received $1.5 billion to support small businesses and manufacturers, according to the United State's Treasury website. It is anticipated to prompt approximately $15 billion in lending to small businesses.

1 The military
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How much confidence do participants have in this institution?

A great deal: 39 percent
Quite a lot: 35 percent

The public's trust in the military has been consistently high and tends to grow upwards, while public trust in other institutions is doing the opposite, according to the Washington Post.

Daniel Drezner of Foreign Policy writes that while many other institutions have been heavily criticized for scandals and mistakes, the military has survived almost unscathed.

"The military and intelligence communities have been doing a lot of things over the past decade that fall outside the bounds of traditional American foreign policy practices," he wrote. "I'm not saying all of these things are bad -- it's a new century, new kinds of threats, and so forth. But most Americans have passively gifted these agencies a lot of goodwill for them to do what they want."