Are members of Congress honest? Poll says nope

11:59 AM ET, Dec 16, 2013
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Just when members of Congress didn't think they could sink any lower, a new Gallup Poll shows a mere 8% of Americans believe their lawmakers are honest.

Only lobbyists fare worse, with 6% of adults saying the professionals who try to influence lawmakers and government rank "high" or "very high" when it comes to honesty and ethical standards.

In a year when the federal government was partially shut down for 16 days over partisan sniping on the budget, many surveys have found Congress falling to new depths on job approval. Honesty and ethics would seem to go hand-in-hand.

The findings for members of Congress are actually 2 percentage points lower than last year, when 10% of Americans told Gallup that their lawmakers in Washington deserve "high" or "very high" marks on honesty and ethics.

Put another way: Car salespeople (at 9%) do better on the honesty scale than members of Congress, as do newspaper reporters (21%) and TV reporters (20%).

Gallup says it's hard for some professions to shake long-held stereotypes. "Politicians — especially those working for the federal government — remain in low esteem, mirroring a commonly held distrust of the federal government that has developed in the U.S. in the past 40 to 50 years," writes Art Swift for Gallup.

So who gets high marks? More than 8 in 10 Americans, or 82%, say nurses are honest and have ethical standards followed by 70% who say the same for pharmacists. Nurses have topped the Gallup list since 1999, except in 2001 when firefighters were rated tops on honesty and ethical standards after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Gallup's survey of 1,031 adults was taken Dec. 5-8. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points.

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