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38% Favor Banning Hate Speech Offenders From Public Office

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Most voters don’t favor a ban on so-called hate speech, but a sizable number are prepared to bar offenders from political office.

A new Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds just 27% of Likely U.S. Voters think the federal or state governments should ban speech by individuals that a majority of Americans believes to be offensive, including speech considered to be racist or sexist. Fifty percent (50%) oppose a ban on such speech, while 24% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

But 38% believe those who say or write things a majority of Americans finds offensive, including speech considered to be racist or sexist, should be banned from holding public office. Forty-four percent (44%) oppose banning offenders from office. Nearly one-in-five (18%), though, are undecided.

Among those who favor a ban on offensive speech, 48% say violators should be punished with jail time. Thirty-five percent (35%) disagree, but 17% are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted November 13-14, 2019 by the Heartland Institute and 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.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of Democrats consider voters who support President Trump to be racist. One-in-three Democrats (32%) say it is racist for any white politician to criticize the political views of a politician of color.

Women (30%) are bigger supporters of a ban on so-called hate speech than men (23%) are. Those under 40 are nearly twice as likely as their elders to think there should be such a ban.

Black and Hispanic voters like the idea of a ban on offensive speech more than whites and other minorities do.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of Democrats believe there should be a ban on speech that most Americans find offensive, a view shared by 22% of Republicans and 19% of voters not affiliated with either major party. Fifty-four percent (54%) of Democrats think those who use offensive speech should be barred from public office, a view shared by just 26% of pro-ban Republicans and 30% of unaffiliateds.

Among those who favor a ban, younger voters are the strongest supporters of jail time. Voters under the age of 40 are also more likely to say that offenders should not be allowed to hold public office.

Nearly half (48%) of all voters say the number of hate crimes in America is growing, but 40% think more and more hate crimes are hoaxes by people for personal or political advantage. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided.

Eighty percent (80%) of Americans believe giving people the right to free speech is more important than making sure no one is offended by what others say. But only 26% think they have true freedom of speech today.

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

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