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Quinnipiac Poll on Snowden and Civil Liberties

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 6:38 AM

This strikes me as a big deal—a big shift in public attitudes on civil liberties and counter-terrorism. A new Quinnipiac poll shows a majority of Americans describing Edward Snowden as a whistle-blower, not a traitor or a criminal. And a plurality describes counter-terrorism as going too far in restricting civil liberties.

From Quinnipiac’s press release:

American voters say 55 – 34 percent that Edward Snowden is a whistle-blower, rather than a traitor, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.
In a massive shift in attitudes, voters say 45 – 40 percent the government’s anti-terrorism efforts go too far restricting civil liberties, a reversal from a January 14, 2010, survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University when voters said 63 – 25 percent that such activities didn’t go far enough to adequately protect the country.
Almost every party, gender, income, education, age and income group regards Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor. The lone exception is black voters, with 43 percent calling him a traitor and 42 percent calling him a whistle-blower.
There is a gender gap on counter-terrorism efforts as men say 54 – 34 percent they have gone too far and women say 47 – 36 percent they have not gone far enough. There is little difference among Democrats and Republicans who are about evenly divided. Independent voters say 49 – 36 percent that counter-terrorism measures have gone too far.
Some of the largest growth in those concerned about the threat to civil liberties is among men and Republicans, groups historically more likely to be supportive of governmental anti- terrorism efforts. . . .

When Quinnipiac University asked voters in January, 2010, whether they thought the government had gone too far restricting civil liberties or not gone far enough to protect the country, not more than 35 percent of any demographic group thought it had gone too far. Then, Republicans said not far enough 72 – 17 percent; today GOP voters say not far enough 46 – 41 percent. Democrats went from not far enough 57 – 29 percent to too far 43 – 42 percent. Men went from 61 – 28 percent not far enough to 54 – 34 percent too far. Women went from 64 – 22 not far enough to 47 – 36 percent not far enough.
. . .
While voters support the phone-scanning program 51 – 45 percent and say 54 – 40 percent that it “is necessary to keep Americans safe,” they also say 53 – 44 percent that the program “is too much intrusion into Americans’ personal privacy.”