If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What America Thinks: Privacy vs. National Security

Despite the fact that a federal appeals court recently ruled that the National Security Agency’s mass gathering of phone and e-mail data is illegal, voters are more supportive of the NSA’s practices than ever. How come? We decided to find out what America thinks.

Eighty-six percent (86%) of U.S. voters consider radical Islamic terrorism a threat to the United States, but 47% believe the government doesn’t focus enough on the potential domestic threat. Now over half of Americans think there is more of a threat from domestic Islamic terrorism than there has been before. Only 34% think the United States is safer than it was before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the lowest level of confidence in five years.

This helps explain why 62% think protecting the country against possible terrorist attacks is more important than protecting the privacy of most Americans. Even though most voters admit the NSA surveillance programs have probably violated the privacy of innocent Americans, more than ever--44%--support those programs.

Americans continue to have little trust in their government. But in the face of terrorism, it’s clear many are willing to sacrifice some privacy in order to be safe at home.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Alex Boyer. Remember, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.