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53% View Government As Threat To Individual Rights

Rasmussen Reports | Jun. 3, 2011

Over half (53%) of Americans now believe the federal government is more of a threat to individual rights than a protector.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just 33% of Adults believe the government is more of a protector of those rights. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

In a survey nearly a year ago, 48% believed the government was a threat to individual rights, while 37% saw the government as a protector. 

Fifty-two percent (52%) of Americans think it is more important for the government to protect individual rights than to promote economic growth. Twenty-eight percent (28%) take the opposite view and say the government should put promoting economic growth ahead of individual rights. Another 20% aren’t sure. These findings are similar to those found a year ago.

In late December, 59% of voters said protecting individual rights was a more important role for government than managing the economy or promoting social justice. 

However, voters still tend to believe America’s legal system puts too much emphasis on individual rights when it comes to both national security and public safety.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on May 30-31, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Men believe more strongly than women that the government is a threat to individual rights. Middle-aged voters share that belief more than those in other age groups.

A plurality of black adults (46%) sees the government as a protector of individual rights, while most whites (56%) and the majority (52%) of those of other races consider the government a threat to those rights.

Most Republicans (68%) and adults not affiliated with either major political party (56%) say the government is a threat to individual rights, while most Democrats (57%) see it as a protector.

However, 55% of both Republicans and Democrats agree that it's more important for the government to protect individual rights than to promote economic growth, a view shared by 46% of unaffiliated adults.

The same survey finds that one-in-five Americans believes individual states have the right to secede from the country, although a majority doesn’t believe it will actually happen.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters say the federal government currently operates within the limits established by the Constitution of the United States. Forty-four percent (44%) disagree.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) are angry with the current policies of the federal government. 

Just 28% of voters believe the federal government has the consent of the governed.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only. 

Please sign up for the Rasmussen Reports daily e-mail update (it’s free) or follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Let us keep you up to date with the latest public opinion news.


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Poll, Constitution, Rasmussen Reports, Bill of Rights

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