May 2013 Poll Results Overview
Americans Want Senate to Drop Gun Control, But Oppose 3D-Printed Guns
Reason-Rupe poll finds public does not want marijuana users to go to jail; supports gay athletes; opposes plastic bag bans and tax increases for universal preschool; believes the government is likely to do more harm than good on domestic terrorism
President Barack Obama has vowed to keep pushing for new gun control measures and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the failed gun vote in the Senate was "just the beginning." However, the latest Reason-Rupe national poll finds just 33 percent of Americans feel the "Senate should debate and vote on gun control legislation again," while 62 percent want the Senate to "move on to other issues."
Earlier this month the world's first fully 3D-printed gun was successfully fired and Reason-Rupe finds Americans are torn on 3D technology. A substantial 62 percent of Americans say people should be allowed to use 3D printers in their homes. However, only 44 percent think Americans should be allowed to print 3D guns or gun parts at home. More than half, 53 percent, say printing 3D gun parts at home should not be allowed.
When asked about the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers, 31 percent of Americans say it makes them more likely to want a gun in their homes, 9 percent are less likely to want a gun and 54 percent say their views weren't impacted by the events.
Almost half, 49 percent, of Americans fear the Boston bombings will cause the government to "overreact and enact policies that do more harm than good. " Conversely, 42 percent trust the government to develop policies that help "avoid similar acts of terror."
The Reason-Rupe poll conducted live interviews with 1,003 adults on mobile (503) and landline (500) phones from May 9-13, 2013. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percent. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey.
Support for Pending Marijuana Bill, Almost No Support for Jailing Users
A majority of Americans, 52 percent, support a bill that has been introduced in Congress that would prevent the federal government from prosecuting people who grow, possess, or sell marijuana in the states that have legalized it. Forty-two percent oppose the bill.
When asked which approach "government and law enforcement should take toward someone found smoking marijuana or in possession of a small amount of marijuana," the public's desire for overhauling America's drug laws is clear. Just 6 percent of Americans say people found with marijuana should go to jail. In contrast, 35 percent say people smoking or in possession of marijuana should not be punished at all; 32 percent say they should be fined; and 20 percent favor rehabilitation and counseling.
Support for Gay Athletes
Following NBA player Jason Collins' public announcement that he is gay, a quarter of Americans, 25 percent, believe having an openly gay athlete is a positive development for society. Seventeen percent say having an active athlete announce he is gay is a negative change for society and 57 percent feel it makes no impact.
An overwhelming number of Americans—87 percent—say their support would not change (77 percent) or would increase (10 percent) if their favorite athlete announced he or she is gay. Just 12 percent say they'd be less likely to support their favorite athlete after learning he or she is gay.
Opposition to Plastic Bag Bans
From San Francisco to Austin, city and county governments are banning various types of shopping bags. Yet, 82 percent of those polled say consumers and stores should determine the types of shopping bags available, while 15 percent say the government should decide.
Sixty percent of Americans oppose banning plastic grocery or shopping bags, 37 percent approve of a plastic bag ban.
Parents, Not Taxpayers, Should Pay for Preschool
President Obama has proposed expanding government preschool programs, however only 37 percent of Americans favor raising taxes to create a universal preschool system, while 61 percent oppose. When asked who should be "primarily responsible" for paying for preschool, 57 percent of Americans think parents should pay and 32 percent want the government to be responsible for paying.
Americans Want Less Spending, More Independents in Congress in 2014
Three-quarters of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing and 57 percent say the country is headed in the wrong direction. With so much dissatisfaction, the new Reason-Rupe poll finds 38 percent of Americans would like to see more independent and third-party candidates win congressional seats in the 2014 midterms, 31 percent prefer more Democrats and 23 percent of Americans would like more Republicans elected next year.
No matter who is elected to Congress, Reason-Rupe finds 54 percent of Americans want the federal government to spend less money next year, 23 percent favor spending the same amount as this year and 16 percent would like to increase federal spending next year.
Half, 50 percent, of Americans approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing, while 43 percent disapprove. The president loses support on his handling of the economy, where 45 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove.
Support for Chained CPI, Health Care Law Loses Popularity
Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized the president's proposal to slow the growth of Social Security by using chained CPI to calculate benefit increases, but President Obama may have the public on his side: 57 percent favor "changing the way benefits are calculated so they increase at a slower rate," while 34 percent oppose such a change to Social Security.
The president's health care law is losing public support, however. Only 32 percent of Americans say they liked the health care law when it was passed and still like it today. Seven percent liked the law when it was passed, but like it less now. Meanwhile, 45 percent disliked the health care law when it was passed and still dislike it. Four percent of Americans say they disliked the law when it passed, but like it more now.
The full poll is online here and additional Reason-Rupe poll resources are available here. This is the latest in a series of Reason-Rupe public opinion surveys dedicated to exploring what Americans really think about government and major issues. This Reason Foundation project is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.