American voters say 55 – 34 percent that Edward Snowden is a whistle-blower, rather than a traitor, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.
In a massive shift in attitudes, voters say 45 – 40 percent of the government’s anti-terrorism efforts go too far in restricting civil liberties, a reversal from a January 14, 2010 survey, by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University when voters said 63 – 25 percent that such activities didn’t go far enough to adequately protect the country.
Almost every party, gender, income, education, age and income group regards Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor. The lone exception is black voters, with 43 percent calling him a traitor and 42 percent calling him a whistle-blower.
There is a gender gap on counter-terrorism efforts as men say 54 – 34 percent they have gone too far and women say 47 – 36 percent they have not gone far enough. There is little difference among Democrats and Republicans who are about evenly divided. Independent voters say 49 – 36 percent that counter-terrorism measures have gone too far.
Some of the largest growth in those concerned about the threat to civil liberties is among men and Republicans, groups historically more likely to be supportive of governmental anti-terrorism efforts.
“The massive swing in public opinion about civil liberties and governmental anti-terrorism efforts, and the public view that Edward Snowden is more whistle-blower than traitor are the public reaction and apparent shock at the extent to which the government has gone in trying to prevent future terrorist incidents,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“The fact that there is little difference now along party lines about the overall anti- terrorism effort and civil liberties, and about Snowden, is in itself unusual in a country sharply divided along political lines about almost everything. Moreover, the verdict that Snowden is not a traitor goes against almost the unified view of the nation’s political establishment.”
When Quinnipiac University asked voters in January, 2010, whether they thought the government had gone too far restricting civil liberties or not gone far enough to protect the country, not more than 35 percent of any demographic group thought it had gone too far. Then, Republicans said not far enough 72 – 17 percent; today GOP voters say not far enough 46 – 41 percent. Democrats went from not far enough 57 – 29 percent to too far 43 – 42 percent. Men went from 61 – 28 percent not far enough to 54 – 34 percent too far. Women went from 64 – 22 not far enough to 47 – 36 percent not far enough.
“The change in public attitudes has been extraordinary, almost across the board and obviously not just related to the revelation of the phone-scanning program, given all that has transpired since 2010,” said Brown. “Yet it would be naive to see these numbers as anything but evidence of a rethinking by the public about the tradeoffs between security and freedom.”