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56% View Feds As Threat to Individual Rights

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The United States was founded on a belief that governments are created to protect certain unalienable rights. Today, however, more voters than ever view the federal government as a threat to those rights.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% of Likely U.S. Voters now consider the federal government a threat to individual rights rather than a protector of those rights. That’s up 10 points from 46% in December.

While 54% of liberal voters consider the feds to be a protector of individual rights, 78% of conservatives and 49% of moderates see the government as a threat.

Overall, only 30% believe the feds today are a protector of individual rights. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Scott Rasmussen explained in a recent column that the biggest loser in the current controversies surrounding the Obama administration may be the president’s effort to build faith in the federal government.

Most voters believe the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations was politically motivated.  Just 20% believe it was done by low level employees in the Cincinnati office. Two out of three believe the orders came from Washington.

Additionally, 60% think it’s likely that other government agencies also targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 2-3, 2013 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.

Democrats continue to view the federal government much more favorably than other voters do. While 76% of Republicans and 61% of voters not affiliated with either major party regard the government as a threat to individual rights, a plurality (47%) of voters in President Obama’s party consider it a protector of those rights instead.

Just over half of all voters now consider the Justice Department’s secret seizure of reporters’ phone records and the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative political groups to be serious scandals.

In recent years, roughly half of all voters have described the federal government as a threat to their rights.

Forty-three percent (43%) believe the Justice Department secretly obtaining phone records from Associated Press reporters and Fox News’ James Rosen was primarily an attempt to intimidate the media. Thirty-four percent (34%) believe the department’s actions were primarily out of concern for national security.

Just 25% of all voters think the federal government today has the consent of the governed.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of black voters consider the federal government a protector of individual rights. Sixty-one percent (61%) of whites and 58% of other minority voters view the government as a threat to those rights.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of the Political Class think the federal government is a protector of rights. Seventy-one percent (71%) of Mainstream voters disagree.

While 49% of voters believe the United States needs stricter gun control laws, 64% think it would be bad for the country if government officials such as police and military personnel were the only ones allowed to have guns.

Lack of voter trust in the federal government is one reason why immigration reform efforts in Congress are running into difficulty. Just 30% think it’s even somewhat likely that the federal government would actually secure the border if the reform plan became law.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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