Thursday, the Guardian released a poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday nights by Public Policy Polling looking at America’s reaction to the National Security Agency (NSA) controversy. The public appears to be reacting negatively to the revelations – and it seems to be hurting President Obama.
We found 50% of American voters believe the NSA should not be collecting telephone or internet records, compared to the 44% who think they should. The results hold even when respondents were told that the data the government is collecting is “metadata” (and not necessarily actual content of communications).
These results are consistent with a CBS News poll, Fox News poll, and YouGov surveythat showed only 38%, 32%, and 35% of Americans respectively approved of phone record collection in order to reduce the chance of a terrorist attack. A Gallup poll was consistent with these, showing only 37% approved monitoring of Americans’ phone and internet use.
The results conflict with a Pew Research/Washington Post survey, which showed 56% of Americans found the NSA’s tracking of phone records to be acceptable. Why the difference?
As Mark Blumenthal pointed out Wednesday, the difference could well have to do with the Pew Research/Washington Post poll pointing out that the government had a “court order”. A court order would, to most, probably imply something less sinister; other pollsters had not made this distinction.
That said, the Guardian survey confirms the Pew survey in another important way. Nate Cohn recognized Wednesday that only 45% of Americans approved of the government monitoring of Americans’ emails and computer information. The Guardian survey discovered a very similar 41% of Americans who feel this way.
It’s fair to say the majority of Americans are, at the very least, unhappy with one or more aspects of the NSA data-mining revelations. The question is, though, whether or not President Obama will suffer political fallout from the leaks. The answer seems to be that he very well may.