February 26th, 2010
09:00 AM ET
13 years ago

CNN Poll: Majority says government a threat to citizens' rights

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/09/art.capitol.gi.jpg caption="Fifty-six percent of Americans say the government poses an immediate threat to individual rights and freedoms."]Washington (CNN) - A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government's become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.

According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken - though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what's broken can be fixed.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall survey.

Filed under: 2010 • CNN Polls • Popular Posts
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Graciey

    Who are the people who don't think it? Fed and State employees and benefit recipients of all kinds. That's about 40%. They don't bite the hand that feeds them. The rest of us are just units to be juiced, or else.

    February 26, 2010 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  2. TM

    Where were those 7 in 10 republican voices when Bush was spying on Americans without a warrant and Cheney was torturing anyone he wanted to? If government has grown too large and too intrusive it's because republicans stood mute for Bush's entire presidency. It was Bush that oversaw the largest growth in govenrment in a generation along with the greatest errosion of liberty and freedom in the nation's history. Republicans NEVER said "No" to Bush and Cheney. I guess they think they can make up for it now by saying NOTHING but "No" now.

    February 26, 2010 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  3. Fan

    lies and fear mongering from GOP is what is driving the polls. CNN please, you can do better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 26, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  4. JT

    Of course they're a threat....they're the biggest corporation in this country and they control our money and rights. As Mark Levin says, a government that has control over what kind of toilet you can put in your own home has all the control they'll ever need.

    February 26, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  5. JIM

    It's striking to see the difference of opinion between democrats and the rest of the voting public. They're about as far out of the mainstream as the president and congress at this point. November can't come soon enough!

    February 26, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  6. Jack

    From a first glance this is a pretty idiotic poll. I'm not sure what rights were specified in the poll. Were any? What rights are being threatened? The right to have health insurance if you have a pre-existing illness? The right to collect social security? The right to collect unemployment insurance? The right to send your child to a public, non-denominational school? The right to choose whether or not one wants an abortion? I'm not sure what the fear is here. i think there is fear, but it is the fear of our economic stability which is being confused with rights. We fought two wars (one definitely unnecessary) and got tax breaks. Now the bill has come due. Now our nation has to pay off its credit card debt.

    February 26, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  7. demwit

    Thanks Obama!!

    February 26, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  8. liberal wing nut

    Change we can believe in!

    February 26, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  9. Mary

    What do you think we been saying for the last two years. You are a litte late to the party CNN. Wake up!! Both Bush and Obama have been "transforming" America into socialism. The American people have known this for two years now........where have you been. Oh, I know your head up your butt and ingnoring the signs. Go figure! You wonder why your ratings are falling..........because you don't tell the truth and refuse to say anything negative about Obama and his mafia henchmen! Wake Up!!

    February 26, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. Jack

    They'd better do something about it quick.

    February 26, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  11. Bill

    Interesting how you changed from 63% to 7 out of 10 when reporting the results. 7of 10 is 70%, so independents and Republicans are actually very closely aligned. I am not surprised that you tried to skew the presentation.

    February 26, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  12. Virginia Menzel

    This is a remarkable bit of data. It almost single handedely demonstrates the differences between American citizens and European citizens.Could it be that our constitution specifically states the risksof a too big,too powerful government we take it seriously.

    February 26, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  13. Carolyn Lacy

    America has been complaining about the pleathera of "bureaucrats" for eons and yet their numbers continue like an avalanche, suffocating America's basic rights and freedoms, regulating EVERYTHING, eliminating an individual's right to choose, to think for oneself, or be secure in one's privacy. NOW THAT'S POWER! Politicians have long felt it their right to infringe on the masses with their greed, self-importance and grasp of power. To imagine the casting of one's vote for an honest and forthright politician that might make a difference is sheer folly. It's the politician with the richest coffer that gets elected and Washington will surely corrupt anyone with any sense of integrity who inadvertently is elected. Representative and Senator terms should have a limit –not a life-time membership. No one can withstand Washington's corruption for 30 or 40 years and call themselves a voice for the people.

    February 26, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  14. Kevin Stowell

    ... and the rest are public (Democrat) school graduates.

    February 26, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  15. Chris Marengo

    Gee, I thought there would be more at this point in time.

    February 26, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  16. Bill

    Only 56%? It's what I have long suspected: The other 44% is either stoned, drunk (aka in college), or stupid.

    February 26, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  17. Jeremy Vaught

    The way this President is trying to force things down the throats of Americans who have realized they don't want his kind of change... I can see why they are threatened.

    February 26, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. Pete

    The funny thing is that the conservatives whining about their rights being taken away were more than comfortable with the previous Administration listening in on our phone calls and detaining American citizens for years on end without charges or even a trial.

    February 26, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  19. Conservatism equals illiterate ignorance

    Just more prrof, as if we needed anymore, that the despicable campaign tactics of the Greedy Old Pigs has eroded the confidence of the American public in thier own government. What can you expect when party continually practices bald faced lies and half truths to gain their way in politics, pretty soon everyone loses trust in the government.

    February 26, 2010 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  20. bravado in boston


    Why now? Why didn't all these whiners take to the streets when George WWWWW Bush was in the process of eroding our civil rights, having telecom companies spying on us, capturing our data, and tightening our ability to move freely in the country and to Canada?

    Why now? WHAT? What are these people talking about? Whine to the Republicans who TOOK YOUR FREEDOMS AWAY!

    You're all a bunch of looney-tune wackos!

    February 26, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  21. john

    Our Founders went to war over far less than we are subjected to now.

    February 26, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  22. Helen Beringer

    . . .and this is a shock to no one.
    Also, this (everything) is George Bush's fault.

    February 26, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  23. Reginald

    The freedom grab has been going on for years, people. Our freedom has been dying the death of a thousand cuts. No single BIG jump to stealing our freedom has or will occur. This process is a slow erosion and designed to be that way so that anyone spekaing about it will be labeled a nut. By the time enough people realize what has been happening, it will be too late. We will be without our guns and the government will control our access to health care, food and access to our money and, therefore, they will own us. Laugh and mock now, people, but in 25 years I will be crying as I tell you "I told you so."

    February 26, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  24. Woody

    A 60/40 split in the senate that votes 60/40 is a partisan divide. CNN would also call it partisan if 37% of those 60, let's call them democrats for arguments sake, voted with the 40, who we'll call republicans. On the other hand, if 30% of the 40 republicans voted with the 60 democrats, well, that would be bipartisan.

    Perspective, Pablo Steinhauser. Perspective.

    Does CNN ever interpret a poll objectively, or are its employees merely making up news stories to agree with their own political philosophies, regardless of the poll results?

    The real conclusion is that MOST Americans (the total of democrats, independents, and republicans) believe that government is dangerous – that it is too big and powerful. We also believe that it is the greatest source of corruption – legal and moral – in America.

    February 26, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  25. Frank

    I agree. I'm even reluctant to put my full name in this comment. We are moving toward a totalitarian state. I never thought it would happen in the USA. The press has become complacent with truth.

    February 26, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
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