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Voters Worry Military Exercises May Lead to Federal Control Of States

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Eight weeks of U.S. military exercises this summer in several southwestern states - dubbed Jade Helm 15 - have some wondering if the government is preparing for martial law. Most voters don’t oppose such exercises, but a surprising number worry about what the federal government is up to.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 65% of Likely U.S. Voters favor the U.S. military conducting training exercises in their state. Just 16% are opposed, but slightly more (19%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Only 21% believe the government’s decision to conduct military training exercises in some states is an infringement on the rights of the citizens in those states. Sixty-two percent (62%) disagree. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.

But 45% of voters are concerned that the government will use U.S. military training operations to impose greater control over some states, with 19% who are Very Concerned. Just over half (52%) are not concerned that the government has an ulterior motive for the training exercises, including 26% who are Not At All Concerned.

Among voters who oppose military exercises in their state, 82% are concerned that the federal government has greater control in mind. Just 34% of those who favor the exercises share that concern.

This level of concern is perhaps less surprising given that 62% of Americans believe there is too much government power and too little individual freedom in the United States today.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on May 7 and 10, 2015 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.

Just 20% of voters now consider the federal government a protector of individual liberty. Sixty percent (60%) see the government as a threat to individual liberty instead. Only19% trust the federal government to do the right thing all or most of the time.

Most voters across virtually every demographic category favor the U.S. military conducting training exercises in their home state. Majorities generally agree, too, that the government’s decision to hold such exercises is not an infringement on anyone’s rights.

But 56% of conservative voters are concerned that the training exercises will lead to greater federal control over some states. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of moderates and 67% of liberal voters are not concerned.

Fifty percent (50%) of Republicans have this concern, compared to 38% of Democrats and 46% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

A plurality (47%) of all voters continues to believe the federal government has too much influence over state governments, but that’s down from 56% five years ago. Fifty-four percent (54%) think states should have the right to opt out of federal government programs that they don’t agree with, but only 24% feel states should have the right to ignore federal court rulings if their elected officials disagree with them.

Voters continue to hold the U.S. military in high esteem.

Most voters (63%) still agree that the U.S. military should be used in the states along the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration.

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

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