Photo by Sarah Grace Taylor / News Reporter
According to a recent survey conducted by the MTSU Office of Consumer Research, low percentages of Tennesseans trust government representatives, such as President Donald Trump and Gov. Bill Haslam, and mainstream media, such as ABC, NBC and CBS. The survey report also showed that the majority of Tennesseans surveyed trust recommendations from people they know and online review websites, such as Yelp.
The survey included answers from 627 people across the state and had a four-percent margin of error. Answers for the survey were gathered online between June 10 and June 19.
“We conduct a quarterly survey of Tennessee consumers to measure their outlook on the economy,” Office of Consumer Research Director Timothy Graeff said. “This is often referred to as consumer confidence. As part of that survey, we included a few questions measuring consumers’ level of trust in various people/institutions.”
The survey report, titled “Tennesseans Report Whom They Trust,” shows that 91 percent of Tennesseans surveyed either completely trust or somewhat trust recommendations from people they know, and 62 percent of Tennesseans completely trust or somewhat trust online recommendations or reviews from other consumers on websites.
While the majority of participants answered that they trusted recommendations from people they know and online outlets, only 38 percent of Tennesseans surveyed answered that they completely trust or somewhat trust Trump, and 35 percent surveyed answered that they completely trust or somewhat trust Haslam. Along with these results, 26 percent of Tennesseans answered that they completely trust or somewhat trust mainstream media, and 18 percent answered that they completely trust or somewhat trust the U.S. Congress.
“Not surprisingly, we found that consumers are relatively trusting of other consumers,” Graeff said. “And, trust in the mainstream media and government is relatively low. This reflects the trend seen in national surveys of diminishing trust in these institutions. Interestingly, Tennesseans have greater trust in President Trump than in either the mainstream media or the U.S. Congress.”
While the majority of participants indicated that government bodies and representatives are untrustworthy, the level of trust that Tennesseans had for said government representatives was drastically split by participants’ respective political affiliations.
According to the survey report, 77 percent of Republicans surveyed either completely trust or somewhat trust Trump, while only nine percent of Democrats surveyed completely trust or somewhat trust the president. The report also states that 30 percent of Democrats completely trust or somewhat trust Gov. Bill Haslam, as opposed to the 49 percent of Republicans surveyed. Mainstream media outlets, which Trump has publicly denounced throughout his presidency, were completely trusted or somewhat trusted by 53 percent of Tennessee Democrats, while only 14 percent of Tennessee Republicans answered that they completely trust or somewhat trust them.
“Given the current social, political and media climate, I expect these low levels of trust to continue,” Graeff said. “Of course, whenever you measure anything politically related, responses will vary based on the respondent’s political affiliation.”
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