Immediately in the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, various political action committees and their ideologically affiliated polling services took to convincing the general public that according to "popular opinion", a "majority" of Americans found Snowden to be a [traitor|hero]. A month later, with the the dust having settled somewhat, the US public has had some more time to consider the implications of living in the United Stasi States of America. And sure enough, another poll has just been released, this time by Quinnipiac. Its findings are as follows: a majority of U.S. registered voters consider Edward Snowden a whistle-blower, not a traitor, and a plurality says government anti-terrorism efforts have gone too far in restricting civil liberties, a poll released today shows. Fifty-five percent said Snowden was a whistle-blower in leaking details about top-secret U.S. programs that collect telephone and Internet data, in the survey from Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University. Thirty-four percent said he’s a traitor.
The view of Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than traitor predominated among almost every group of respondents broken down by party, gender, income, education and age. Black voters were the lone exception, with 43 percent calling Snowden a traitor compared with 42 percent saying he was a whistle-blower.
More from the poll:
The poll also showed that by 45 percent to 40 percent, respondents said the government goes too far in restricting civil liberties as part of the war on terrorism. That was a reversal from January 2010, when in a similar survey 63 percent said anti-terrorism activities didn’t go far enough to protect the U.S. from attacks, compared with 25 percent who disagreed.
“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 Quinnipiac’s polling institute.
“The verdict that Snowden is not a traitor goes against almost the unified view of the nation’s political establishment,” Brown said.
Facing espionage and other charges and with his passport revoked, Snowden has been holed up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving there on June 23 from Hong Kong, which refused a U.S. extradition request. President Barack Obama’s administration has been pressuring other countries not to grant Snowden asylum, and U.S. officials who have called him a traitor include House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.
The poll showed both Democrats and Republicans about evenly divided on whether government counter-terrorism measures have become excessive. Independent voters view the methods as having gone too far by 49 percent to 36 percent.
“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,” Brown said.
A gender gap emerges, though, on the government’s anti-terrorism programs. The poll showed that men, by 54 percent to 34 percent, see the government as having gone too far in its efforts while women, by 47 percent to 36 percent, said the measures haven’t gone far enough.
Despite this divergence, figures for the genders from Quinnipiac’s January 2010 poll exemplify the overall change in attitude on the issue. Male respondents, by 61 percent to 28 percent, said in the earlier survey that the government hadn’t gone far enough to protect the country. Among women, 64 percent said the same.
Likewise, among Republicans the percentage who said government has gone overboard in restricting civil liberties in the fight against terrorism grew to 41 percent in the new poll, compared with 17 percent three years ago.
Of course, this poll will promptly be overturned by another poll conducted by MSNBC (or comparable), finding that 120% of Americans believe Snowden deserves the chair. And the farce will go on.