Oh my: 64% support new TSA scanners but public split on patdowns; Update: Why the decline?

posted at 6:49 pm on November 22, 2010 by Allahpundit

Something for everyone here. For TSA skeptics, evidence that relentless media scrutiny over the past week is turning the public against the new protocol. That widely linked CBS poll taken between Nov. 7 and 10 showed 81 percent support for full-body scanners; this new one from ABC conducted just yesterday shows support down to 64 percent for the machines and a 50/48 split (within the margin of error) against the patdowns. (Among those who fly at least once a year, it’s 54 percent.) For skeptics of the skeptics, it’s evidence that for all of Drudge’s heavy breathing, most of the public’s still willing to have a screener remotely view their junk for security reasons. In which case, maybe Howard Kurtz is right. Maybe this is just an old-fashioned media pants-soiling!

Despite some outrageous incidents involving idiotic conduct, with 2 million passengers screened each day, more than 99 percent are unaffected by the new policy.

“Very few people actually get the pat-down at all,” John Pistole, who runs the Transportation Security Administration, told me. “I don’t know what the impression is” from all the media scrutiny, he says, “but it’s a very, very small number.”…

The [media] narrative combines a number of elements: Hassled airline passengers (who can’t relate to that?); terrorism concerns; invasion of privacy, and a hint of sexual naughtiness. But the key here is that every local news outlet in America could send a reporter or a crew to a nearby airport and grab a piece of the action…

[I]n the modern media world, anecdotal accounts rule. Perhaps some customers, not the disabled ones, were being oversensitive; doesn’t matter. We all identify with bedraggled passengers, having removed their shoes and belts, having dumped their drinks and packed their tiny toothpaste tubes, being oppressed by a rigid and inflexible system. But that doesn’t mean the excesses are widespread.

TSA’s doing what little damage control it can in response to high-profile outrages, either denouncing specific incidents on TV or personally apologizing to the victims by phone. But as Gibbsy acknowledged at today’s press briefing, political pressure is now such that the procedures are obviously going to evolve. Whether that means keeping the scanners but eliminating the patdowns in favor of an alternative (sniffer dogs?) or adding a technological tweak to further obscure passengers’ identities or something bolder, we’ll see. But, via the new poll, there is support for certain forms of profiling — provided it’s done right, of course:

Why, in an age of jihadi terror, religion would be prioritized lower than nationality, appearance, or race, I have no idea. Presumably Americans are worried either that there’s no reliable way to ascertain someone’s religion or that trying to ascertain it would necessarily involve means that are unpalatable (e.g., intense questioning of passengers about whether they’re Muslim). In any case, and needless to say, the acid test on all this is what happens tomorrow through Sunday, when a whole lot of Americans will get a taste of the new procedures firsthand. I think William Saletan’s right that “Opt Out Day” is apt to generate more of a backlash towards TSA skeptics than towards TSA itself as harried passengers stuck in line scream at them to just go through the scanner already. And if TSA can convince the public that the scanners are safe — which they are, provided that they’re only emitting the amount of radiation they’re supposed to emit — then this week might actually lead many fliers to develop a comfort level with the new procedures.

Via Breitbart, here’s freshly scanned LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the airport putting his moneymaker where his mouth is to defend the new machines. When will Obama and Napolitano follow suit?

Update: A commenter makes a good point. Here’s how CBS worded its question about the scanners a few weeks ago:

Some airports are now using “full-body” digital x-ray machines to electronically screen passengers in airport security lines. Do you think these new x-ray machines should or should not be used at airports?

81 percent said yes to that. Now compare the wording in ABC’s question, to which only 64 percent answered yes:

The Transportation Security Administration is increasing its use of so-called ‘full-body’ digital x-ray machines to screen passengers in airport security lines. (Supporters say these machines improve the ability to spot hidden weapons and explosives, and reduce the need for physical searches.) (Opponents say these machines invade privacy by producing x-ray images of a passenger’s naked body that security officials can see, and don’t provide enough added security to justify this.) Which comes closer to your own view – do you support or oppose using these scanners in airport security lines?

ABC informed respondents of the cons (and pros, which are more obvious) while CBS didn’t. Maybe that explains the difference between the polls, which in turn means maybe public opinion isn’t shifting that much after all. Again, this week is the acid test; next week’s poll comparison will be more reliable.


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Oops! It’s a See-B-S Poll taken 3 weeks ago. Rasmussen should do a new one.

Key West Reader on November 22, 2010 at 6:52 PM

Wait until after this week…

d1carter on November 22, 2010 at 6:54 PM

And if TSA can convince the public that the scanners are safe — which they are, may be, provided that they’re only emitting the amount of radiation they’re supposed to emit.

Some of us have faith that the TSA will properly maintain and repair the machines used in this, the largest mass x-raying of a population in human history, and some of us don’t.

Incidentally, among truly frequent fliers, those who are most aware of the issue and the entire Security Theater that’s been occurring, the poll shows that support drops even further.

Drained Brain on November 22, 2010 at 6:55 PM

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,137 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone November 7-10, 2010.

I’d like to know what the numbers are today?

azkenreid on November 22, 2010 at 6:56 PM

The scanner question in this ABC poll was worded in a way to make it much more useful than in the previous CBS poll. It actually describes the use of the scanners, not just if you support the existence of such scanners in airports in general. The CBS results were basically bogus because the question was so bad, and apparently tailored to get people to say “yes”.

forest on November 22, 2010 at 6:56 PM

I guess I missed the point. Never Mind.

azkenreid on November 22, 2010 at 6:58 PM

64% support others being scanned, but if you tell them about radiating themselves then the support will drop. That’s how these things work, they don’t think it will to them.

Daemonocracy on November 22, 2010 at 6:58 PM

What a tremendous waste of time, money and resources.

Stupid Americans + corrupt politicians = now filthy rich makers of scanners.

darwin on November 22, 2010 at 6:59 PM

I am used to be a frequent flyer. Millions of air miles in the bank. But I refuse to fly while this clown and his posse are in charge. So I guess he is getting what he wants in destroying the airline industry. GOD help us!

lukespapa on November 22, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Field Marshal Napolitano already has done the scan, did you folks miss it? Napolitano Defends Airport Security Procedures

slickwillie2001 on November 22, 2010 at 7:00 PM

If they’re that safe, they’ll probably replace the current magnetometers in schools, courts, and other public buildings, and they’ll eventually enhance our safety as we board buses, subways, and trains.

Sort of like all those CC cameras in the UK. Everything for safety and security, right?

Drained Brain on November 22, 2010 at 7:01 PM

provided that they’re only emitting the amount of radiation they’re supposed to emit

That’s a heck of a “provided.”

The car you leave with valet parking will be returned to you in one piece provided that the guy making minimum wage +tips doesn’t take it out for a joy ride.

Sure, it won’t happen often, but if you’re the one it happens to, sorry for the cancer, dude.

DrAllecon on November 22, 2010 at 7:02 PM

Presumably Americans are worried either that there’s no reliable way to ascertain someone’s religion or that trying to ascertain it would necessarily involve means that are unpalatable (e.g., intense questioning of passengers about whether they’re Muslim).

Easy, stand at the security gate with a unflattering Mohommad cartoon, and spotting muslims will be a piece of camel cake.

Hog Wild on November 22, 2010 at 7:02 PM

media-bubble dipshiites. The People are much more angry about it than they realize, or any lib-skewed poll will relate. Wednesday is going to be complete blowup.

rayra on November 22, 2010 at 7:04 PM

Joke with family (only half joking) — we can’t fly together. Someone has to be ready to bail me out when I refuse a grope or strip, aka a medical exam by TSA.

publiuspen on November 22, 2010 at 7:08 PM

Wait until the body scans — real or fake — of the famous hit the internet. It’s already happened to Bollywood film stars.

Fortunata on November 22, 2010 at 7:10 PM

Drained Brain on November 22, 2010 at 7:01 PM

Someday we will be able to buy a frozen dinner and by the time we get the food home it will be cooked.

fourdeucer on November 22, 2010 at 7:12 PM

Via Breitbart, here’s freshly scanned LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the airport putting his moneymaker where his mouth is to defend the new machines.

You’re not talking about his junk are you?

Kini on November 22, 2010 at 7:13 PM

I’m actually not at all OK with the scanners. I fly nearly every week, sometimes with multiple stops. I don’t want to be bombarded with needless low-level radiation 2 to 6 times a week.

flipflop on November 22, 2010 at 7:14 PM

In which case, maybe Howard Kurtz is right. Maybe this is just an old-fashioned media pants-soiling!
===========================================

Me thinks,who from the top down,has ordered this TSA
Agent Kabucki Stripper Pole Distractionary Ploy Snafu!

I’m beginning to think this is a planned distraction,to cover for other things that Hopey might be busy doin!!!

Jus sayin!!!

canopfor on November 22, 2010 at 7:15 PM

http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/11/22/the-real-airport-security-debate-would-you-rather-be-groped-or/

Last April, four scientists at the University of California-San Francisco sent John Holdren, Obama’s top science adviser, a letter declaring their “concerns about the potential serious health risks.”

The four scientists — a biochemist, a cancer specialist and two X-ray experts — noted, “This is an urgent situation as these X-ray scanners are rapidly being implemented as a primary screening step for all air travel passengers.” They maintained that the dose of radiation delivered by these machines would appear to be safe “if it were distributed” throughout the traveler’s entire body. But, they contended, because most of the dose “is delivered to the skin and the underlying tissue … the dose to the skin may be dangerously high.”

This quartet of scientists said that “real independent safety data” about these scanners “do not exist.” They insisted that the devices could cause breast cancer in a “fraction of the female population,” damage white blood cells, induce cancer within HIV and cancer patients, and cause “mutagenic effects” — that is, chromosome damage that could lead to cancer, particularly among older travelers. They also asserted that men are “at risk for sperm mutagenesis.” They added, “The risk of radiation emission to children and adolescents does not appear to have been fully evaluated,” and they suggested that pregnant women could be at risk.

The four asked, “have the effects of the radiation on the cornea and thymus been determined?” And they raised the possibility of a glitch in the scanner’s hardware or software causing “an intense radiation dose to a single spot on the skin.”

In other words, oh boy, there’s a lot to worry about:
There is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations. We are unanimous in believing that the potential health consequences need to be rigorously studied before these scanners are adopted. Modifications that reduce radiation exposure need to be explored as soon as possible.

mountainaires on November 22, 2010 at 7:18 PM

Maybe they should poll people like me who fly every week instead of once or twice a year and then see how “acceptable” these intrusive, useless searches are?

glockomatic on November 22, 2010 at 7:18 PM

I’m beginning to think this is a planned distraction,to cover for other things that Hopey might be busy doin!!!

canopfor on November 22, 2010 at 7:15 PM

Distractions? Yup!

START for one.
Dream Act for two.

Kini on November 22, 2010 at 7:19 PM

For skeptics of the skeptics, it’s evidence that for all of Drudge’s heavy breathing, most of the public’s still willing to have a screener remotely view their junk for security reasons.

Yes, but many people have yet to travel on their trips. The poll after Thanksgiving should be interesting.

Weight of Glory on November 22, 2010 at 7:23 PM

When did these new procedures come into play? They only hit the news on the weekend AFTER the mid-term elections. Is there a correlation here?

jerseyman on November 22, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Antonio Villaraigosa is a jerk of the first water. Always has been. Always will be. His ex-wife should be demanding he return her surname.

Mae on November 22, 2010 at 7:26 PM

My solution is to feign sexual pleasure from the grope-down. Moan and say “oh yea” and “yea right there” and “just like that” in public – no private gropes for the TSA. Be sure and thrust your pelvis right in the face of the TSA groper and demand a re-grope when done. Complain that the first wasn’t satisfying enough. The mission is to make them 100 times more uncomfortable than you. Make them DREAD having to pat someone down.

gogman on November 22, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Maybe I missed it but were all those polled fliers? I haven’t flown in 25 years myself. And I only know of a couple people who fly once or twice a year. So maybe some of those polled haven’t flown in a while? I’d think if all polled had recently flown there would a much higher negative view of the screening techniques.

And as for Mayor Villar he probably heard there were cameras over at the airport so he hurried over to see if he could get in front of a one.

multiuseless on November 22, 2010 at 7:28 PM

Here is some additional motive for skipping the plane and driving — per 1998 wiki figures, average fuel consumption is 4.8L/100km (50 mpg) per passenger on planes. If your car gets 26 mpg highway and there are 2 of you, you are reducing fossil fuel use. Three or more people in the car and boy are you saving the planet.

You will miss out on the free grope though.

GnuBreed on November 22, 2010 at 7:28 PM

I’m beginning to think this is a planned distraction,to cover for other things that Hopey might be busy doin!!!

canopfor on November 22, 2010 at 7:15 PM

Well, then there’s the FCC regulating the internet Dec. 15, but, I don’t think he needs a distraction. He does what ever he wants anyway.

As for this poll, how many people are knowledgeable about these scanners? How many are know that El Air has a perfect security record and yet does nothing like this?
I doubt many people know that at all, and to the uninformed, these procedures probably seem like a necessity.
Probably, to a lot of people’s minds, it may seem like there are no other alternatives. When the mainstream media reports on these procedures, they always relate it to the underwear bomber almost in the same breath!

JellyToast on November 22, 2010 at 7:30 PM

P R O F I L E!!! Get the Israelis to tell us how. And they don’t do it my religion.

Dingbat63 on November 22, 2010 at 7:31 PM

Villaraigosa will do anything to get in front of the public. He’s a media whore.

As for the ‘polls’. How about polling just the people who actually undergo ‘the procedure’?

I can well imagine that if you just polled people who are afraid to fly – and don’t – they’d be 100% for the scanners and pat downs.

Odd how that works.

GarandFan on November 22, 2010 at 7:32 PM

Does anyone know when these procedures were originally put in place and when the decision was made?

jerseyman on November 22, 2010 at 7:35 PM

Via Breitbart, here’s freshly scanned LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the airport putting his moneymaker where his mouth is to defend the new machines. When will Obama and Napolitano follow suit?
===============================
Well,according to the Mayor of LA,its as safe as holding a newborn,and,I think,the mayor might not have all his facts
either,it sounds,alot more like an Info-mercial!

canopfor on November 22, 2010 at 7:35 PM

ALLAHPUNDIT! I can’t beleive you missed this!

Janet Napolitano Unveils New TSA Public Relations Campaign

NTWR on November 22, 2010 at 7:44 PM

How come neither poll question asked about radiation?

thirteen28 on November 22, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Curious that all these Leftists are rushing to support the machines and the TSA in general. These are the people who screamed about the Patriot Act and stayed up late at nights worrying about the government listening to terrorist phone calls and library books.

TheBigOldDog on November 22, 2010 at 7:44 PM

canopfor on November 22, 2010 at 7:15 PM
====================
Distractions? Yup!

START for one.
Dream Act for two.

Kini on November 22, 2010 at 7:19 PM

Kini:Typical,d*mmitt!!:)

canopfor on November 22, 2010 at 7:44 PM

We know this President sees elections as an opportunity to “punish your enemies.”
We know this administration has sought to “punish” the citizens of Arizona for replacing a Democrat governor with a Republican by suing Arizona for enforcing immigration laws.
We know this administration has “punished” the people of Louisiana for replacing a Democrat governor with a Republican by destroying thousand of jobs through the drilling moratorium.
We know this administration punished New Jersey for replacing a Democrat governor with a Republican by refusing 400 million in education funds because of a clerical error.
Is this administration “punishing” the dumb and ignorant American people through these scan and search procedures?

The absolute definition of a sore loser!

jerseyman on November 22, 2010 at 7:45 PM

None of this is about safety. It’s all about control of your life and choices. When has the TSA ever found a bomb?
It’s the passengers that saved that Detroit flight and then the FBI screwed it up with the Miranda rights kerfluffle.
Obama is the biggest hinderance to our freedom and the war on terror.
Profile, profile, profile.

BetseyRoss on November 22, 2010 at 7:46 PM

*believe* that is…

I think this is all just a distraction from The DREAM Act Amnesty that is set to be voted on Monday, the Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510), also an imminent vote, the FCC net neutrality thing, and the UN Small Arms Treaty.

NTWR on November 22, 2010 at 7:46 PM

The next generation will be a 1.21 jiggawatt, back-scattering, low orbiting satellite coupled with a modified Hubble telescope.
What you don’t know, won’t kill ya.

Electrongod on November 22, 2010 at 7:47 PM

words mean things, and the media uses words to try and shape opinion.

How about the question “should granma’s and the children’s private parts be shown to TSA people”. I bet that gets a different answer.

tarpon on November 22, 2010 at 7:53 PM

Take your pick:
1. Distract Americans from unpopularlegislation
2. Intimidate Americans into submission
3. Punish Americans for voting Republican
4. Destroy airlines during peak season
5. All of the above

jerseyman on November 22, 2010 at 7:54 PM

Hopey might be busy doin!!!

canopfor on November 22, 2010 at 7:15 PM
=========================================

Probably, to a lot of people’s minds, it may seem like there are no other alternatives. When the mainstream media reports on these procedures, they always relate it to the underwear bomber almost in the same breath!

JellyToast on November 22, 2010 at 7:30 PM

JellyToast:Not a peep from the TSA Agents in 8 years of Bush
and its as if,they were ordered to change their
policy,somebody higher up,must be aware,and why!!
:)

canopfor on November 22, 2010 at 7:55 PM

Take your pick:

3. Punish Americans for voting Republican

jerseyman on November 22, 2010 at 7:54 PM

jerseyman:Voting GOP,sounds the most logical!!

canopfor on November 22, 2010 at 7:57 PM

Why is all this happening a year later(underwear bomber),I know it takes time to get the machines in, so Cherdof is now rich, but this is something else.

I think this is all about the unions, they are trying to unionize the TSA, they had to know this would piss people off so airlines are going to start losing money, Delta voted not to unionize all of a sudden they are having all kinds of mechanical problems, bail out the airlines??
Government airlines??
Unions win the american people lose again.

concernedsenior on November 22, 2010 at 7:58 PM

Frankly, I go with 5) all of the above, as this policy is a grand slam four bagger on all accounts for this administration. They probably hired a bunch of new TSA agents to help improve the employment numbers as extra icing on the cake.

jerseyman on November 22, 2010 at 8:01 PM

Take your pick:
1. Distract Americans from unpopular legislation – Reid
2. Intimidate Americans into submission – Holder
3. Punish Americans for voting Republican – Obama
4. Destroy airlines during peak season – Pelosi
5. All of the above

One policy, many Dem leaders happy, multiple benefits.

jerseyman on November 22, 2010 at 8:06 PM

This is supposedly a reaction to last Xmas’ “Underwear Bomber” but wait! Weren’t we told by Napolitano that “the system worked?” If so, why this reaction now?

It’s all about CONTROL, conditioning the citizenry to follow orders blindly and resistance (e.g. “opt out”) will be met with punishment (enhanced pat downs).

glockomatic on November 22, 2010 at 8:08 PM

Intelligence missed every warning sign about the underwear bomber, right down to the calls from his father so the public must pay. I don’t care about the scanners, although they have already lied about the ability to retain images. I don’t like the “enhanced” pat downs and certainly not for children. Where are all the people who got their panties in a bunch over the chance the government would know what books where checked out at the library?

Cindy Munford on November 22, 2010 at 8:29 PM

Real men wear kilts.

OkieDoc on November 22, 2010 at 8:45 PM

I’d still like to hear at least one story of a TSA worker who quit or was fired after refusing to pat down a 3 year old.

I’d like to believe someone would stand up and say this is wrong.

Fallon on November 22, 2010 at 8:51 PM

The polls are bogus if they include people who never fly; they have no vested interest, so they will answer based on a broad assumption about ostensible “security” measures. Poll those of us who have been subjected to the invasive, humiliating pat down (even after I went through the scanner) and those who fly frequently if you want meaningful results. Otherwise, this is sound and fury signifying nothing, just like the TSA security theater.

College Prof on November 22, 2010 at 8:56 PM

Prof:
I agree with your sentiments, but must ask “meaningful” to whom? Obama care only about votes, so why poll any group other than voters?

GaltBlvnAtty on November 22, 2010 at 9:09 PM

“Very few people actually get the pat-down at all,” John Pistole, who runs the Transportation Security Administration, told me.

Thinking at the TSA is done by very few people at all; so maybe we should remove their brains and re-purpose them for something useful. Donate them to science perhaps?

That’s a comparable argument right? Since very few of them bother to think; we can assume none of them do?

Very few kids will be groped; so lets pretend that number is 0… should we do this with other crimes as well?

Very very very few people are terrorists; but we need to crack down even harder to prevent them… why the difference exactly?

gekkobear on November 22, 2010 at 9:53 PM

Might I ask what differences citizen-videojournalists
might expose about this issue if they did some “Exit”

interviews with people going/coming from other areas of the country?

Perhaps comparisons about what happened on each leg of

their trip.

I betcha most people would talk to you about the experience.

I’d so love to see it.
And I’m quite sure that there’s a reward for this type of documentation.

OkieDoc on November 22, 2010 at 10:14 PM

Geez… This is an old and tired one, but we all KNOW that if George Bush’s TSA was electronically strip-searching people at airports and/or patting their “junk”… every media outlet in this country would be falling all over themselves to express their outrageous outrage.

But since it’s Obama’s TSA… they’re tailoring their polls to get support for it.

Murf76 on November 22, 2010 at 10:21 PM

plenty of traveling happening this week… lets wait and see the trainwreck.

maineconservative on November 22, 2010 at 10:36 PM

Wait until the body scans — real or fake — of the famous hit the internet.

Fortunata

Why waste time viewing their body scans when you can watch their sex tapes instead?

xblade on November 22, 2010 at 10:59 PM

Anyone read the Popular Mechanics article posted on this site?

Interesting.

Not a single terrorist has been discovered by the TSA. Even the producers of the Rapiscan admit that it would not have caught “The Underwear Bomber” – the very thing the administration uses as an excuse for this silliness.

If over 60% of people are willing to be treated like criminals because they bought an airplane ticket then I guess we really are in trouble.

I tend to not believe that number.

Dorvillian on November 22, 2010 at 11:19 PM

I don’t fly, but I care about this. After 2001, what, twice there were terror incident on a plane? There were two involving cars also. They all involve walking, breathing, etc.

I have no idea how many jillions of flights went perfectly, but these incidents justify this? Then what else can they use terror incidents to justify? Where is the line?

The nanny-state food regulations have more justification than this, and are less inappropriate.

jodetoad on November 22, 2010 at 11:28 PM

When did these new procedures come into play? They only hit the news on the weekend AFTER the mid-term elections. Is there a correlation here?

jerseyman on November 22, 2010 at 7:26 PM

There was an announcement made at the end of October about the new enhanced procedures. We were out of town at the time and I was concerned about the screenings for our return flight on Nov 1st.

GrannySunni on November 22, 2010 at 11:56 PM

Why is a mayor coming out in support of this? Oh right, he owes a Democrat president a favor after his bailout.

I would accept the Rapiscan if the image were altered somewhat. Does anyone really believe that a machine hawked by a lobbyist is safe and effective?

And let’s remember the gubmint ignored intelligence on all the airline bombers. And gave Mohammed Atta a visa six months after 9/11.

PattyJ on November 23, 2010 at 1:34 AM

Which leads to the obvious next question: Exactly WHO did the pollsters ask these questions to?

Because I sort of suspect if they had asked these questions to anyone who just went through a TSA checkpoint, the resulting poll numbers would be a bit different.

pilamaye on November 23, 2010 at 8:01 AM

I’d rather see a poll of people who travel more than once a year, since they’re the ones who will be subject to the TSA Gestapo. The opinion of very infrequent travelers about what we should/should not do is like asking the 40% of people who don’t pay federal taxes if we should stick it to the “wealthy.”

redfoxbluestate on November 23, 2010 at 8:02 AM

Can’t see London, can’t see France, until we see your underpants and other TSA slogans

Buy Danish on November 23, 2010 at 9:45 AM

I don’t care what friggin polls say, I’m hating this intrusion, and will not travel until it’s changed. So there.

leftnomore on November 23, 2010 at 2:02 PM