Liberals And Conservatives Switch Positions On NSA Surveillance Depending On If 'Their Guy' Is In Power

from the terrible dept

Orin Kerr has pointed out that people who self-identify themselves as "liberals" or "conservatives" seem to shift their opinion on NSA surveillance depending on whether or not it's "their guy" in the White House. That is, back when George W. Bush was President, "Democrats" disapproved of the NSA's surveillance activities, with only 27% approving it. "Republicans" on the other hand, had a 75% approval of the NSA's activities, which were known to include warrantless wiretapping. Fast forward to today, and we have "liberals" being split down the middle between being concerned and not concerned, but conservatives having 77% either "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about the surveillance (48% falling into the "very concerned") category. Kerr notes that the two surveys may not be completely comparable -- the questions were not identical, and one study was based on political party, while the other was based on ideology (which might not match up). But, at the very least, it does suggest a general sense that people are much more comfortable with surveillance when "their guy" is in power, and against it when they dislike the President.

That's troubling on any number of levels, but hopefully it serves as a point to a useful tool in convincing those who trust "their guy" not to abuse the system: just ask them how comfortable they'll be when "the other guy" is in power after the next election?

Filed Under: conservatives, liberals, nsa, surveillance


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    Wally (profile), 7 Jan 2014 @ 8:31am

    Fractured truth yields fractured answer...lots to say...

    Mike, one thing I'd like to point out is that we've had several congressional elections since the draft of the PATRIOT Act in general. I can see the data in several different ways because of this.

    What I boil the data down to is that it seems that both parties are trying to get each other in trouble with the public for power...

    The Democrats spoke out against the changes to the PATRIOT Act and the FISA revision in 2006, and yet they voted in favor of them (including one then Senator from Illinois, Barrak Obama...who by then was working on getting his 2008 presidential campaign going). I remember clearly in the media about how Bush Jr was signing bills that would allow the NSA to spy on us...and how the GOP set it all up....After Obama got elected, major news media outlets went silent about it until Snowden blew the whistle...


    Now to the Bush Jr's credit...at heart, he had the idea of protection in mind...I don't think anyone in that current congress (save Nancy Pelosi and Joanne Feinstein) knew how to exploit it to their party's advantage. The two biggest Congrssional lobbyers for the Patriot Act were Pelosi and Feinstein...In my view, they took advantage of the intent of the PATRIOT Act...and lobbied to have it revised to what it l has become...Nancy Pelosi lobbied to keep Section 215 by lobbying against the Smith-Amash Act...

    Thing to note on my view is that the biggest sign that there is something up is that all those who were once heads of the Congrsssional Intelligence Committee still majorly support Section 215.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.