Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

26 Percent Say Privatizing USPS Would Improve Quality and Speed of Service


Reason-Rupe asked Americans about the impact of allowing private package carriers like UPS and FedEx to deliver the mail. Most Americans (47 percent) thought the speed and quality of service would remain the same, 22 percent thought quality would worsen, and 26 percent thought service would improve.

Expectations about privatization are in part explained by the underlying favorability toward the government-owned US Postal Service (USPS). Among the fifth of Americans who have an unfavorable view of USPS, a majority (53 percent) believes privatizing would improve service quality, 32 percent say quality would remain the same and 10 percent say it would worsen. In stark contrast, among the 80 percent of Americans who have a favorable opinion of USPS only 19 percent say privatizing would improve quality, 25 percent say it would worsen quality, and a majority (51 percent) say quality would remain the same.

In sum, strong favorability of USPS deflates support for privatizing USPS mail services.

Eighty-percent of Americans are favorable toward USPS, with 28 percent who are "very favorable." But Americans also like private package carriers like UPS (84 percent favorable) and FedEx (78 percent favorable). At the same time, twice as many Americans have an unfavorable opinion of USPS as they do UPS and FedEx (17 percent versus 9 percent).

Nearly all political groups and demographics are equally critical of UPS and FedEx, but political differences emerge regarding USPS. A quarter of Republicans are unfavorable toward USPS compared to only 12 percent of Democrats. USPS may have had some difficulty in the Northeast and Southern regions, since nearly a quarter of these respondents also have an unfavorable view of USPS, while only 10 percent are critical of FedEx and UPS. Only 12 percent of Midwestern and Western respondents have an unfavorable view of USPS.

In the absence of widespread frustration with the US Postal Service, Americans may find privatizing it less compelling. The argument that privatization would harness free market forces to improve quality and reduce costs is lost on most people. Or perhaps this argument is not their initial consideration when confronted with the possibility of reform.

It is possible that with greater discussion explaining how mail delivery could be improved with removing USPS' monopoly over services, that Americans would be open to privatization. Currently, this argument has not been made salient enough such that Americans immediately bring it to mind when asked about reform.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted February 21-25 2013 interviewed 1002 adults on both mobile (502) and landline (500) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.8%. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results found here. Full methodology can be found here. 

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  1. Then shouldn’t you be wearing the bucket?

  2. Who the fuck thinks “very favorably” of the USPS? They’ve managed to run a monopoly on delivering first class mail into a multibillion dollar hole. And its not like their reputation for being surly, worthless, and incompetent is unearned. Are there that many stay at home people screwing the mail carrier? Or do these people have to spend a lot of time around a group of people who are known for shooting people when they get disgruntled?

  3. We’ve digitized mail service, made the whole outfit nearly obsolete but for the inevitable bureaucratic lag, and yet 80% of the country still feels congenially disposed toward it? Or at least predominantly opposed to privatizing it?

    Gentlemen, we are fucked.


  4. I hate the Postal Service. All they do is deliver bills. Fuck them.

    1. don’t forget the junk mail.

  5. Jesus, among self-described libertarians 54% had a net favorable view of USPS, and among libertarians as determined by other responses to the survey, fucking 72% did! We really are doomed.

    1. The survey did not note whether or not the responses were in a sarcastic, mocking tone.

    2. But it’s in the Constitution, nicole!

      1. I now blame you for this.

        1. Well, that was a given. The question is whether you blame me for NutraSweet, which you absolutely should.

  6. I blame Kevin Costner.

  7. The USPS already is privatized. It needs to be deregulated.

  8. I had to go to the post office last month to apply for a passport in person. I went on a Saturday morning, and was the third one in the door when they opened that morning. The guy at the passport counter didn’t open up his workstation for 45 minutes, and when he did, he just helped the first two people in line, and then went on break for an hour (without anyone coming to relieve him). I was the 3rd person he helped that day, and it took me 3.5 hours to complete the application for a passport. By the time I left, there were over 50 people in line.

    It was very strange to feel so angry, yet so grateful that I was one of the few people to get a passport that day.

    1. That’s what is so wonderful about government enforced monopolies! You can tell your customers to fuck off, treat them like shit, and they keep coming back! It’s awesome!

  9. All for the “privilege” of leaving the country. Which, in this case, will be to take my kids to a ridiculously overpriced water park in the Bahamas. Lucky me!

    1. See, not going to Hawaii instead is where you have failed. No passport, yet 100% awesome.

      1. Or the US Virgin Islands if playa wanted to be in the Caribbean.

      2. I’m doing Kauai/Maui in May without the kids. I was going to be in S. Florida for business anyway, so I figured I should check out Atlantis before that new resort puts them out of business next year…

  10. I wonder if the percentage of Americans who send their kids to private school or use home schooling is anywhere near the figure of 26%?

    I read an article once that claimed an estimate of about 30% of the colonial population actively supported the American Revolution.

    In any case, I think it’s further evidence that somewhere around 3/4 to 2/3 of America is Joe Biden stupid.

  11. The best thing I can say about going to the post office is that it’s eleventy million times more pleasant and productive than going to a NYC area DMV.

    Watching most of the “workers” at the post office read the paper and chat on their cells while the lines snake out the door sucks, but at least you usually get what you came for.

    As for the DMV, I almost always leave there screaming at someone in frustration. The last time I went, after a 3 hour, 3 line wait, I was told that they don’t accept laminated birth certificates, and I proceeded to go balistic. Luckily, the 400 pound guard didn’t move from his chair

  12. Privatization won’t help if they are still a monopoly: for example, unless you live in an area with lots of competition, tell me how much you love your cable company.

    Remove their monopoly on first class mail, and THEN we’ll see shit shaken up.

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