CBS poll: Most Americans disapprove of NSA phone-record collecting

posted at 11:21 am on June 12, 2013 by Allahpundit

Monday’s Pew poll showing that a majority of Americans back the NSA’s phone-record harvesting drew 300+ comments so I figured you’d want to see this one too.

CBS’s numbers look … different:

Seventy-five percent of Americans approve of federal agencies collecting the phone records of people the government suspects of terrorist activity, but a 58 percent majority disapproves of this type of data collection in the case of ordinary Americans.

Majorities of Republicans and independents oppose the government collecting phone records of ordinary Americans; Democrats are divided.

Democrats, who were heavily in favor of tracking domestic calls to fight terror in Pew’s poll, split 48/48 here on collecting the phone records of “ordinary Americans.” Republicans oppose it, 33/66, and independents oppose it, 34/62 — also sharply different from Pew’s poll, where they split 52/47 and 55/43 in favor, respectively. Interesting footnote: Even though Americans disapprove of phone-record collecting overall here, 38/58, a small majority say that collecting those records is nonetheless necessary to fighting terror. Lindsey Graham seems to think that if something is necessary for counterterrorism, it’s automatically worth doing. CBS’s numbers suggest that Americans disagree.

Why are these numbers so different from Pew’s? Two possibilities. One is the timing of the polls. Pew’s was conducted between June 6th and 9th. CBS’s was conducted on the 9th and 10th. The news about PRISM broke on the 6th, so maybe some chunk of Pew’s sample hadn’t yet formed an opinion about it. A few days of hostile media coverage later, with news shows filled with chatter about the surveillance state, and now maybe O’s got a backlash on his hands. The second possibility, as always in polls, is differences in how the pollsters word their questions. Pew framed its question about data-mining phone records by asking if it’s acceptable or not for NSA to get “secret court orders to track calls of millions of Americans to investigate terrorism.” CBS framed its own question by asking if people approve of federal agencies “collecting phone records of ordinary Americans.” No surprise that Pew saw stronger support by emphasizing that this is all being done with court supervision, and no surprise that respondents would grimace a bit more at the thought of all this when CBS emphasized that “ordinary” Americans are being targeted. Polling data on this subject is, I suspect, unusually sensitive to tweaks in the wording of questions, partly because people are so torn about the privacy/security interests involved and partly because the subject is technically and legally complex. My hunch is that Pew’s results are closer to the truth than CBS’s, but we need more data — and more precise descriptions of what the NSA’s doing from poilsters when they ask about this — to know for sure.

As for why I think Pew’s closer to the truth, chew on these two tidbits from CBS’s poll:

concernedbalanceaboutright

When you ask people if they’re concerned about losing some of their privacy due to counterterrorism, 59 percent say they’re “very” or “somewhat” concerned. But as you see above, when you ask them if they’re concerned about the government collecting their own personal phone records, you get just 38 percent who say “very” or “somewhat” and 62 percent who say “not much” or “not at all.” Check the crosstabs at CBS and you’ll see that there’s no strong partisan split on that question either: 61 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats say they’re “not very” or “not at all” concerned. Likewise, the second data set above shows that despite their disapproval of NSA record-collecting, there are nonetheless majorities among Democrats, Republicans, and independents who say the current balance in infringing on privacy to fight terror is either “about right” or doesn’t go far enough(!). What we’re really looking at when we examine polls like this is whether a broad, sustained backlash among the population that would force O and Congress to scale back NSA surveillance is likely. Do those results suggest that it’s likely?

One more bit of data for you, this time from a separate YouGov poll released this morning:

bo

You can take that first question either way. More people think O’s doing a bad job protecting constitutional rights than a good job, but if you toss in the people who think he’s doing okay/fair, you’ve got 49 percent who aren’t too troubled versus just 45 percent who are. (There’s no partisan split at the link but you can guess what it looks like.) The second question is less ambiguous: Just one-third think he’s gone too far in prioritizing counterterrorism over civil liberties. Forty-five percent think he’s either struck the right balance or hasn’t gone far enough. The YouGov poll was taken on June 7th and 8th so, again, maybe the full impact of the PRISM revelations hadn’t been priced into the data yet. More polls will tell us for sure, but this eeyore is skeptical that they’ll look much different.


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Comment pages: 1 2

“My hunch is that Pew’s results are closer to the truth than CBS’s,….”

The Ministry of Truth approves of your message…

Seven Percent Solution on June 12, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Barack Obama, during his Cairo speech, said: “I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s history.”

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Most people are like… huh?

John the Libertarian on June 12, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Barack Obama, during his Cairo speech, said: “I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s history.”

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Yeah. The Barbary Coast. Jefferson.

Keith Ellison had the guts to tell his constituents that same sort of thing when he took his oath on “Jefferson’s” copy of the Koran as if Jefferson had some sort of admiration for Islam.

oldroy on June 12, 2013 at 1:09 PM

The war is over, but the terrists terrorists won.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2013 at 1:09 PM

MontanaMmmm on June 12, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Indeed. They monitor all those, especially “phone sex”, no kidding.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2013 at 1:11 PM

If you mentally block-out the program to think it’s looking for terrorists only, you comfort yourself into thinking you’re not on the radar.

But let it seep in that this is about total awareness, and prepare for utter panic.

budfox on June 12, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Yep!

Ministry of Truth is workin’ doubletime doublethink on newspeak that has become doublespeak.

Now Ya’ll quit this unhealthy obstinate desire for ownlife driven by oldthink and embrace goodthink…

doubleloop…doubleplusgood!

workingclass artist on June 12, 2013 at 1:14 PM

“My hunch is that Pew’s results are closer to the truth than CBS’s,….”

I don’t know about that. This poll is fairly well in line with the results that Rasmussen got a couple of days ago.

If you ask me about “ordinary Americans”, I would consider myself as part of those affected. If you ask me about nameless, faceless, millions of Americans, I am less likely to consider myself to be targeted because I know I am not a terrorist.

Similarly, the other questions asked by CBS and Pew don’t carry the same “ordinary American” wording so again we’re back to the nameless and faceless folks. Additionally, when it comes to national security, I don’t usually jump to thinking about telephone records (or I didn’t used to do so).

Greyledge Gal on June 12, 2013 at 1:19 PM

42% would load us on a train.

faraway on June 12, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Glenn Reynolds today linked to this 1941 article in Harper’s — “Who Goes Nazi?” Fascinating. Pay particular attention to “Mr. C” for…something familiar. Read it through to the end where the author tells what kind of people do — and do not — “go Nazi.”

http://harpers.org/archive/1941/08/who-goes-nazi/1/

Rational Thought on June 12, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Barack Obama, during his Cairo speech, said: “I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s history.”

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Most people are like… huh?

John the Libertarian on June 12, 2013 at 1:07 PM

We were informed recently none of us are natives to Oceania…only Indigenous Peoples like Plains Tribes and Residents of Azatland…

BTW…

IT Guy calling into Rush says democrats (OFA) are using the data gathered by the NSA to regionally target political opposition…Maxine Walters accidentally referred to Obama’s massive database in a recent interview.

Paraphrasing Rush:
“Don’t discount her cause she would know about it and also be stupid enough to talk about it…cause She’s proud of it…”

workingclass artist on June 12, 2013 at 1:32 PM

MontanaMmmm on June 12, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Indeed. They monitor all those, especially “phone sex”, no kidding.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2013 at 1:11 PM

If my sis is involved in that, unlike the NSA, I prefer to let her have her “privacy”… I’ll let you all know if my tinfoil theory is true, I will be getting an ad for basketballs tomorrow.

MontanaMmmm on June 12, 2013 at 1:35 PM

My hunch is that Pew’s results are closer to the truth than CBS’s, but we need more data — and more precise descriptions of what the NSA’s doing from poilsters when they ask about this — to know for sure.

My hunch is the opposite….

For example: Pew’s questions were loaded. Once people find out the secret court approves everything, basically a rubber stamp, they will not be so cool with it.

Another example: This is like the polls on gun control where 85% approve background checks or gun control, yet we clearly see time and time again from election results that is not the case. Think of it like this…Someone call you up while your watching the basketball game and says “hey do you think the government should monitor phone calls in order to fight terrorism?” Most people quickly assume that the people the government is monitoring must have some links to terrorists so they say “yes”…so they can get back to what they were doing. If you use the word “ordinary”…see the difference….they say to themselves “hey that mean me! I am ordinary!” and the answer is “heck no I don’t want the government monitoring my phone calls”.

Same thing with putting up windmills, a majority is for them, until you ask the question….”how about in your backyard?”

William Eaton on June 12, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Glenn Reynolds today linked to this 1941 article in Harper’s — “Who Goes Nazi?” Fascinating. Pay particular attention to “Mr. C” for…something familiar. Read it through to the end where the author tells what kind of people do — and do not — “go Nazi.”

http://harpers.org/archive/1941/08/who-goes-nazi/1/

Rational Thought on June 12, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Thanks for posting the link.

People in my particular profession in the realm of ideas either become Shepard Fairey types…or they are deemed deviant and unless they get out or go underground…they disappear

There’s a formula for it…and it’s been used and perfected forever…It’s all about controlling the flow of information so the controlling authority can control dissenters organizing.

workingclass artist on June 12, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Obama is trying to make it difficult for anybody/group of dissenters to be able to go underground which happens when dissenters start to organize their dissent and that organized dissent is quashed by Authority…even if it’s completely peaceful and lawful dissent.

So…What were the Statists worried about domestically in 2007-2008?

I’m sure residual Palin Support was part of it…Maybe conservatives on the internet?

We know now that lots of folks with real or potential Fascist tendencies were very worried about conservative activists in 2009-2010.

They were worried enough to actively try to quash organization and growth of dissent….especially the TEA Party.

This is gettin’ interesting…

workingclass artist on June 12, 2013 at 1:59 PM

I think more Americans would approve if they knew a couple of things:

1. Verizon isn’t giving NSA anything it doesn’t already have. In other words, some political partisan at Verizon who has capability to look up billing information on customers already could do what someone is worried NSA will do. NSA is getting information that is already available to anyone with access to Verizon’s billing database.

2. Giving NSA this information REDUCES the amount of snooping. If NSA is aware of a bad actor overseas and can see who is communicating with that individual or group here in the US, that information can be turned over to FBI for greater scrutiny without the need to do blanket snooping and hoping to “get lucky”.

Remember that it is FBI who requested that FISA warrant requesting Verizon’s billing data be turned over to NSA for analysis. NSA didn’t request it. This data gives the potential to greatly reduce the amount of snooping that is done by weeding out the vast majority of people who aren’t involved in anything they are looking at.

crosspatch on June 12, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Giving NSA this information REDUCES the amount of snooping.

crosspatch on June 12, 2013 at 2:09 PM

You’re utterly insane.

That’s like saying if I shoot this person, it’ll reduce the amount of shootings I commit.

In fact, your logic sounds a lot like “We’ll actually save money by spending a fortune on ObamaCare!”

Full circle, quisling.

MadisonConservative on June 12, 2013 at 2:28 PM

“My hunch is that Pew’s results are closer to the truth than CBS’s,….”

Obama has lost another 2 points in his approval rating overnight. He was at 47 yesterday and is at 45 today. His disapproval number increased by 1 point in the same time period.

Resist We Much on June 12, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Think about what we’re asking the NSA to do. Collect all the evidence of crimes, but don’t look at it, until a judge tells you it’s ok. Don’t open that box with the answers to all of your urgent questions. Just keep adding to it, and sometimes a judge will let you reach in and pull out one teeny tiny part of the box’s contents.

In my experience, people would have a hard time not giving in to temptation in that situation. And to me, even in a life and death situation, upholding the 4th Amendment should take precedence. I know the courts don’t agree with me on this. But they should consider how much power a court REALLY has, if police can do things in a “emergency”. Suddenly, everything is an emergency.

hawksruleva on June 12, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Giving NSA this information REDUCES the amount of snooping.

crosspatch on June 12, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Sure, if your search warrant says “seize everything, everywhere” you need fewer search warrants.

And really, isn’t that what freedom is all about? Reducing paperwork?

hawksruleva on June 12, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Giving NSA this information REDUCES the amount of snooping.

crosspatch on June 12, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Seriously, the gall of this statement offends me profoundly.

No different than a cop saying “look, this traffic stop will move a lot more quickly if you let me look through your car”.

MadisonConservative on June 12, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Snowden Showed Evidence Of US Hacking China To Hong Kong Newspaper

http://www.businessinsider.com/snowden-us-has-been-hacking-china-2013-6#ixzz2W27BMd9h

stingray9813 on June 12, 2013 at 3:46 PM

The reason the polls are different is because they didn’t ask the same questions. In fact in the PEW one they state the NSA was getting special court orders for monitoring millions US citizens in the US when that was not true and a flat out lie. The only time FISA courts approve monitoring are for the specific people named in the court orders.

JeffinSac on June 12, 2013 at 4:28 PM

Edward Snowden: US government has been hacking Hong Kong and China for years

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1259508/edward-snowden-us-government-has-been-hacking-hong-kong-and-china

stingray9813 on June 12, 2013 at 4:30 PM

You too are now on the Main Core Marshall Law Detention List for complaining about the possibility of being “detained and retrained.”
oldroy on June 12, 2013 at 11:28 AM

AKA “restrained and debrained.”

Marcola on June 12, 2013 at 11:39 AM

I’m too old to be retrained so it’s off to the ovens with me. Wonder how I could go out with a bang.

yesiamapirate on June 12, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Sorry, nope.
They can get me, but at least one of them goes down, too.

Liam on June 12, 2013 at 11:58 AM

One? You need to finally get prepared.

http://www.motifake.com/preparedness-demotivational-posters-44505.html

VegasRick on June 12, 2013 at 12:04 PM

I’m posting that on Facebook just before I close the account.

yesiamapirate on June 12, 2013 at 5:23 PM

CBS had better get with the program and start providing the poll results the Obama Administration wants — or funny things could starting happening to them.

I wonder how many at CBS are cheating on their wives or husbands, you can bet Obama knows.

Axion on June 12, 2013 at 7:52 PM

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