We won’t know until there’s a Republican in the White House again.
All of the numbers are extraordinary there, but the most eye-popping is the fact that the only other partisan segment that agrees with TPers that Snowden’s FISA/PRISM leak was in the public interest are … liberals. In a separate question, Pew asked people if they would feel “violated” if they knew that the government had collected their data; then they divided the results up by various demographics — sex, race, age, education, partisanship, you name it. Among 17 different demographic slices, the one with the highest percentage saying that hey would indeed feel violated was tea partiers at fully 78 percent. The second-rate, from independents, was a distant second at just 69 percent. Proof positive that Rand Paul’s right and I’m wrong about a deep, permanent libertarian shift within the GOP? Or merely an artifact of sharp partisanship fueled by tea partiers’ total distrust of The One? Hmm:
That doesn’t prove anything, of course. It’s possible, maybe even probable, that the two parties’ views of interventionism and the surveillance state won’t revert to what they were circa 2007 once the executive branch changes hands again. Some Democrats, having now heard a president they support extol the virtues of a post-9/11 NSA, will see counterterror surveillance in a different light permanently going forward. Some Republicans, having now been forced to trust a president they loathe with massive domestic intelligence capabilities, will never again support government’s security prerogative the way they once did. The million-dollar question is how deep and broad those sorts of shifts in perspective are. That’s the core of the Cruz/Paul distinction. Cruz has “concerns” in principle with the scope of NSA surveillance but the crux of his objection seems to be that Obama is uniquely untrustworthy. If that’s true, then having a Republican back in office will make some of his constituents comfortable again with broad surveillance. Paul’s objection to surveillance has less to do with Obama than with the nature of government power itself. Supporters of his who’ve made the shift to doctrinaire libertarianism aren’t coming back around to NSA power just because a GOPer is in charge. (Unless it’s Rand himself?) What percentage of tea partiers who object to Obama’s NSA are in Cruz’s camp versus Paul’s camp?
Give Rand credit, though, for identifying younger voters as being potentially receptive to his message uniquely among Republicans. If Pew’s numbers are right, that’s absolutely true: Americans aged 18-29 are the most likely among the various age demographics to object to government data collection (55 percent) and also the most likely to see Snowden’s leaks as serving the public interest (60 percent). A majority of every age group and of the public at large thinks Snowden should be prosecuted — except young voters, who oppose it, 44/50. If you’re worried about young adults once again crippling the GOP at the polls over issues like gay marriage, taking a strong Paulian line on government intrusions on digital privacy is one way to hedge.
Exit question: How to reconcile Pew’s findings with this data from this morning’s CNN poll?