Fewer Americans Say They Are Willing to Sacrifice Their Liberties For Safety

Just 48 percent of Americans say it is necessary to sacrifice some rights and freedoms to fight terrorism – a decrease of 16 points from 2011.

WHY IT MATTERS – Americans’ attitudes towards sacrificing individual freedom for safety tends to influence voting behaviors.

THE NUMBERS – A recent Associated Press-NORC Center Poll asked Americans “if they believed it necessary to sacrifice their rights and freedoms to prevent terrorism.”

  • 48 percent – Agreed
  • 50 percent – Disagreed

When broken down by political party, Republicans (44 percent) said it was sometimes necessary, Democrats (55 percent) said they believed it was necessary, and Independent (42 percent) believed it necessary. This was a decrease from a 2011 poll that found Republicans (69 percent) and Democrats (59 percent) who agreed it was sometimes required.

The survey also asked U.S. adults whether they supported the federal government listening to phone calls made outside the U.S. without warrants.

  • 28 percent – Supported the practice
  • 44 percent – Opposed the practice
  • 28 percent – Neither supported nor opposed the practice

The survey also analyzed attitudes towards forms of surveillance by ethnicity, asking whether they opposed the government listening to foreign calls without a warrant.

  • 48 percent of White adults – Opposed
  • 34 percent of Black adults – Opposed
  • 34 percent of Hispanic adults – Opposed

BOTTOM LINE – Many Americans – Republicans, Democrats, and independents – have misgivings about how American intelligence agencies operate.


AP – Democrats and Republicans are skeptical of US spying practices, an AP-NORC poll finds

AP-NORC – The public is divided on whether sacrificing some rights is needed to fight terrorism