The results of the latest survey are out. What the polling found is on one hand predictable and on the other hand, not so.
For example, Alabamians have the highest level of confidence — 80 percent or more — in churches, doctors, small businesses, police and colleges.
No big surprise here. These are institutions that are close to the people, institutions in which “average” Alabamians put their trust. There is a personal relationship here. That matters.
On the other hand, the lowest confidence is in individuals and institutions that have not been able to create or maintain a personal relationship with “the people,” institutions and individuals that remain distant, even out of touch.
In this lower category, where the level of confidence is 50 percent or less, polling found the state Legislature, political parties, statewide newspapers, the Alabama Board of Education and the Alabama Christian Coalition. There also was not much confidence in lawyers and unions.
Naturally, details such as the composition of the pool surveyed (more Republicans than Democrats, more women than men, more whites than blacks) and the educational level (most have a high school diploma, many attended college, almost 25 percent graduated), must be considered when doing any in-depth analysis.
However, on the surface, a few things come clear.
Large, statewide institutions over which individuals have little control and seem to pay little attention to what “average” citizens want — the Legislature, the school board, political parties, unions and organizations like the Christian Coalition — rank low in the public mind.
Similarly, those institutions that are close to home, whose leaders are part of the community and speak the language of the people — churches, doctors, small businesses, police and colleges (which, thanks to our network of junior colleges and trade schools, are almost as hometown as high schools) — rank high.
To put it another way, Alabamians have confidence in institutions and individuals with which they can deal directly, ask questions, get answers and make a personal connection.
While this may not be new news, it is something that the larger, statewide institutions shouldn’t forget.