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71% Say Too Many People Get Welfare Who Shouldn't

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Americans overwhelmingly believe that the bigger problem with the welfare system in the United States is that there are too many overqualified recipients rather than not enough. Most also think legal immigrants should have to wait at least three years before being eligible for welfare benefits.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 71% of American Adults say the bigger problem with welfare programs in the United States is that too many people get welfare who should not be getting it. Just 18% say the bigger issue is that too many people who should receive welfare do not get it, while another 11% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Republicans (91%) and adults not affiliated with either political party (70%) believe much more strongly than Democrats (51%) that the bigger problem with welfare is that too many ineligible people are on it.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of all Americans think immigrants who follow the law and enter the United States legally should have to wait three years or more before collecting welfare benefits, including 31% who believe they should wait more than five years. Seventeen percent (17%) think three years is enough, while 11% prefer a five-year waiting period. 

Fourteen percent (14%) think one year is an appropriate waiting period for legal immigrants to be eligible for welfare, but 16% believe there should be no wait at all. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

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The national survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on August 16-17, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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