Bitcoin

Millennials, the Tech-savvy, Independents, and Libertarians Say Bitcoin Should Be Allowed; Bitcoin Tells Us Who Cares About Choice

|

The latest Reason-Rupe poll is one of the first polls to ask Americans about Bitcoin, the new online digital currency. Only 8 percent of Americans said they knew "a lot" about it, 11 percent said "some," 24 percent said "a little," and a majority (56 percent) said "nothing at all."

The poll then described Bitcoin to respondents as "a new online digital currency that is not connected to any particular country's currency system and is not controlled by any government." Then, even despite the high number who knows nothing about Bitcoin, a plurality (47 percent) said government should not allow people to use Bitcoins to purchase goods and services, while 38 percent said it should be allowed and another 14 percent don't know.

The poll found that the people who know the least about Bitcoin want to ban in the most. However, among those who know a fair amount about Bitcoin, they favored allowing it by a margin of 62 to 34 percent. Among those who know nothing at all, they want to ban it 54 to 27 percent.

Support for Bitcoin increases with education and income, and declines with age. Americans making more than $110,000 a year support allowing Bitcoin by a margin of 55 to 39 percent. Conversely, households making less than  $75,000 a year tend to oppose with only 36 percent in favor and 49 percent who think Bitcoin should be prohibited. Roughly half of those who have not attended college are weary of Bitcoin, but a plurality of college graduates think it should be allowed. As described below, millennials are considerably more supportive of Bitcoin. Men (43 percent) are slightly more likely than women (34 percent) to favor allowing Bitcoin. Racial groups are equally likely to lean toward prohibiting Bitcoin.

Bitcoin's Ideological Experiment

Bitcoin offers a unique opportunity—a type of experiment—to examine how people react to things with which they are unfamiliar.  Some individuals have a natural predisposition to ban things they don't understand while others naturally lean toward individual autonomy unless someone convinces them that someone else will be harmed. The question of Bitcoin provides a useful tool to delineate between those who opt for control or choice.

So what types of individuals are most likely to favor choice or control? Millennials, tech-savvy gamers, political independents, and libertarians.

Among young people 18-24, 59 percent say Bitcoin should be allowed, this drops to 46 percent among 35-44 year olds and then further to 22 percent among seniors 65 and older. This is part of a larger trend we're observing with this generation: socially liberal with undecided economic views, but cares deeply about personalization and individual autonomy.

Arguably, individuals who play video games frequently are also necessarily more tech-savvy. Reason-Rupe finds that tech savvy gamers also support allowing Bitcoin 55 to 35 percent. In contrast, Americans who never play video games, say government should prohibit Bitcoin 51 percent to 30 percent. Like millennials, gamers also exhibit a tendency toward personal choice on issues beyond Bitcoin.

Unlike partisans, roughly half of political independents and independents who lean Republican favor allowing Bitcoin, while 35 percent want it banned. In contrast, a majority (57 percent) of Democrats want it prohibited, as do 52 percent of Republicans. While sample sizes are too small to draw firm conclusions, it's intuitive that 66 percent of self identified libertarians want to allow Bitcoin while only 17 percent think it should be prohibited. Self-identified conservatives were the most likely to want to ban it by a margin of 53 to 33 percent. 

Examining underlying beliefs about the role and power of government, Reason-Rupe finds that a majority (53 percent) of Americans who think government should promote traditional values are unfavorable toward Bitcoin, compared to 32 percent who favor it. But not only social conservatives want government to control Bitcoin, so do Americans who prefer a strong government and who say there is more government should be doing (both 50 percent opposed).

In fact, asking questions about the appropriate scope and power of governmentallows us to group Americans according to beliefs on economic and social issues respectively creating four groups: those who lean libertarian, conservative, liberal, and communitarian (socially conservative but fiscally liberal). Each group comprises about a fifth of the population respectively, with the remainder in the ideological center.

Among the political groups, only the group defined as libertarian reaches a majority (52 percent) in support of Bitcoin; liberals follow closely with 48 percent, then 37 percent of conservatives, and 24 percent of communitarians. These results confirm intuition: the more libertarian a person, the more predisposed they are to allow personal choice.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted March 26-30 2014 interviewed 1003 adults on both mobile (503) and landline (500) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.6%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results, detailed tables, and methodology found here. Sign up for notifications of new releases of the Reason-Rupe poll here.    

Advertisement

NEXT: Jeb Bush is Right: Illegal Immigration - Like Legal Immigration - is an "Act of Love"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Label error in that last bar graph.

    blue: not allow Bitcoin

    red: not allow

    1. Yeah, I missed that error on first read.

    2. They should cast their net for proofreader again. “Weary” instead of “wary”. I applied, got no response, figured they’d’ve hired by now, but if so they need to start over.

  2. 17% of self-identified libertarians think the government should not allow Bitcoin to be used to purchase goods and services?

    I’m thinking this poll is kind of meaningless other than showing a lot of people are unaware of Bitcoin.

  3. While sample sizes are too small to draw firm conclusions, it’s intuitive that 66 percent of self identified libertarians want to allow Bitcoin while only 17 percent think it should be prohibited.

    17% of “libertarians” polled are confused. How the hell do they think people are going to be prevented from using bitcoin?

    1. Note to self: refresh before commenting.

    2. Just a wild guess: Considering the numbers of conservatives and “libertarians” opposed to allowing Bitcoin I wonder if they think it is the new EBT or something created and provided by the government?

      1. No, you just have to remember that not all libertarians are radical libertarians. People self-identify as to what they most closely identify with, not that they necessarily fit the extreme ideal of. “Libertarian” = “more likely than the avg. person to favor liberty in a given case”.

      2. Some “libertarians” probably don’t know what the word means, and others might be self-identified “left-libertarians.” I’m also not sure why you’re shocked that a large number of conservatives would be against Bitcoin.

  4. Millennials, the Tech-savvy, Independents, and Libertarians Say Bitcoin Should Be Allowed; Bitcoin Tells Us Who Cares About Choice

    Of course it should be allowed!

    That does not turn Bitcoin into money. But it should be allowed.

    Did you notice that between those who said it should be allowed to exist, only 31% called themselves “Democrats”?

    Can you find better evidence of the authoritarian and statist streak that permeates the proggie team members?

    1. I notice that at 46% “conservatives” are opposed to Bitcoin more than liberals are (39%).

      1. Re: Peter Caca,

        And 60% of Communitarians oppose it. That tells you something.

        1. Seems odd as the few communitarians I know support alternative currencies such as Ithica hours and Berkshares. Is this difference in support a matter of who the initial supporters or perceived beneficiaries of Bitcoin are or confussion in the minds of communitarians? (or all three.)

          1. No, it’s because Bitcoin is used worldwide by strangers, while Ithaca Hours & Berkshares are associated w communities.

  5. But people will but fully automatic AK47s on craigslist! And HEROIN!

    Freedom is nice, in theory, but come on.

    1. Obviously the solution is to allow purchasing only virtual goods with virtual currency.

      1. How many bitcoin for that blueprint of a 3d printed AK-47?

    2. “But people will but fully automatic AK47s on craigslist! And HEROIN!”

      That would be a good start.

  6. Millennials, the Tech-savvy, Independents, and Libertarians Say Bitcoin Should Be Allowed; Bitcoin Tells Us Who Cares About Choice

    Yes, yes, but what percentage of those libertarians were “light” libertarians or “brutalist” libertarians and what percentage were the caring-heart kind? Uh? UH?

    1. Thick Liberty ?ber Alles!

      Those brutalists don’t even care about the under-representation of women in STEM.

    2. There are only two libertarians.

      you and me.

      So 50/50 I would think.

  7. “While sample sizes are too small to draw firm conclusions, it’s intuitive that 66 percent of self identified libertarians want to allow Bitcoin while only 17 percent think it should be prohibited.”

    That’s not what the graph says?

  8. buty

  9. The poll found that the people who know the least about Bitcoin want to ban it the most.

    If you’re going to support such a drastic measure as banning something, shouldn’t you have somewhat of a fucking idea of what it is?

    1. No. Burn that which is unfamiliar.

      1. No. Burn that which witch is and her unfamiliar!

        FTFY

        /Witchsmeller Pursuviant

    2. Having a poll taker ask you a question, you’re much likelier to make a choice than you would go out of your way to act on that choice. Most of these people wouldn’t lift a finger to ban Bitcoins, but if you’re asking them….

      1. For me, especially talking to friends and co-workers, the question is:

        What will you endorse to ban Bitcoins? (or whatever other technology/idea)

        ie, would someone endorse blocking access to Sourceforge and/or github? Cease and desist for distribution of open source software? Raiding the offices of those to have them remove links to download particular software? Force a developer to make changes to it and cryptographically sign those changes? Ban people from running it on their computers? Force people to run a government-issued watch dog to make sure they aren’t running unapproved software?

        It’s a good way to make technical friends uncomfortable with their thoughts of banning things.

  10. I’m not a Millennials and calling me a libertarian (even the most left-leaning) may be a stretch. However, I’m tech savy.

    I’m fine with electronic currency. I just have these things to say:

    1 It can’t be annonymous. In fact, we can truly address many issues if we merely got rid of CASH. We would have real solutions to immigration.
    Yes, a prostitute can always barter for a TV or FOOD for her service. And I’m fine with that. However, Pimps won’t be able to establish a criminal enterprise using the BARTER SYSTEM.

    2 I know it’s cute of us to sit here and make comments and debate and the occasional tomato throwing. However, one should consider before biting the hand that feeds us and keeps us (even though in a corrupt manner) on top. The ability for the US to print the DOLLAR and the fact that the DOLLAR is the #1 currency for things like Oil and Narcotics, BITCOIN can kill that. If so, we may not be so comfortible writing snappy comments if we had to pay like everyone else.

    3 Good luck get AMerica to give up the money printer.

    1. It can’t be annonymous. In fact, we can truly address many issues if we merely got rid of CASH.

      Financial privacy is a very important right, whether one is performing controversial or non-controversial transactions. A transaction that is non-controversial today may not be so in the future.

      1. Financial Privacy is great for people that have things to hide. But, when weighed against tranparency and to keep fraud and things we deem illegal out, I think it loses. And, it’s losing.

        Tax payer demands to know the total compensation of every government worker from the President down to the Street Cleaner. That’s a good thing.

        Stock holders (other than board members) demand that the total compensation and stock purchases/sales of the company they work fore are made public for PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANIES. That’s a good thing. I think eveyone’s salary and the general budget should be made public to the Stock Holder.

        I know and appreciate why Libertarians want this private. It’s due to mis-trust of Government, etc. And Government is not something we should blindly trust. It needs to be policed. We’re having a tough time because the people governing don’t want to be policed.

        1. You can have radical transparency for governments and organizations just by publishing addresses used by them, and radical privacy for individuals through trustless mixing, encrypted transactions, stealth addresses, and other methods. Those going for transparency will have to do so voluntarily, but if they are competing against other orgs (charities, say) then there is a big incentive to pick the one that you can see exactly how much the executive team gets paid vs. what goes to helping people.

          It’s important to have that privacy whichever side of an issue one is on (as shown last week with Mozilla.)

          The privacy aspect is coming, and there is no stopping it.

          1. I disagree with the point that privacy is coming. It’s going. That seems to be the trend.

            1. Look at things like ZeroCoin (originally a proposed set of patches to Bitcoin, now an alt-coin).

              It builds anonymity right into the protocol. It’s not in BTC itself at this point, but if there were a serious attempt at controlling use or de-anonymizing BTC (whitelists/blacklists, registered addresses, etc), it could be dropped right in. Or just trade over to the anonymous chain as needed (through trustless, decentralized exchanges).

              Another one coming soon is DarkWallet — mixing built right into wallet software.

              And mixing is very important to ensure fungibility.

              1. I keep going back to Point #3, “America doesn’t want to give up the DOLLAR PRINTER”

                Remember, they are on the Backbone.
                The reason we didn’t wipe out Narcotics is not because we CAN’T. We can. It’s just that a lot of law enforcement and other people are involved in the corruption.

                You can see that we were able to control Plastic Explosives. At least in America, the so-called terrorist have to use fertlizer or Firecrackers.
                So, they can police when they want to.

                What I was thinking the Cyber People can do is setup a satellite or drones to do communication. But I think the gov would knock them out.

        2. Government is not something we should blindly trust. It needs to be policed.

          Policed by who? The governemnt is “the government” precisely because it has a monopoly on legal violence. So, who’s going to police it? An even bigger government? The voters? Don’t make me laugh.

          1. More transparency would work.

          2. More transparency of what is going on what is happening with the money.

            Our local School Superintendent ($250k a year) got our local school board to appoint a Deputy School Superintendent ($150k a year). It was transparency in which we caught this. This wasn’t a Deputy, it was a crony. Had we not had transparency we would had never been able to go to board members (we elected) and grieved.

            1. So? Did anything else happen, or did they just remind you that they have the power and you can fuck off?

              1. Local politics is not national politics.

                I, sometimes, which national politics worked this way.

                We were able to get rid of two board members (via elections) and got rid of the Deputy and the Superintendents assistants (more cronies). We did this by informing our local tax payers.

                Luckily for us, we do have educated and aware citizens. We have many that are not so aware. It took public meeting in school auditoriums (which the BOard of Ed tried to block), newspapers, tv, and almost entire voting cycle (two years). We did it.

                Going the the state education commissioner was useless.

        3. Financial Privacy is great for people that have things to hide.

          Just because someone wants privacy doesn’t automatically mean they are doing something wrong. They may just like their privacy.

          1. I wouldn’t even “weigh” financial privacy against the ability to do illegal things. The ability to anonymously pay for illegal goods and services is one of the most appealing features of a cryptocurrency.

    2. “Pimps won’t be able to establish a criminal enterprise using the BARTER SYSTEM.”

      That is so not true. I think you underestimate the resourcefulness of criminals. Barter is already used in the black market (Tide) and most criminal transactions in the prison system are entirely barter.

      1. They will barter. But a criminal enterprise on bartered goods and services is a toughy. And, probably more managable than cash criminal enterprises.

  11. It HAS to be anonymous. That’s one of the best features. I’d love to have a cash-like asset that can be traded totally anonymously.

    1. With use of mixers and being careful, you can have Bitcoin essentially anonymized. Right now you would have to trust a mixer, but trustless mixers are coming.

      There’s also opportunities for encrypted transactions, which would be essentially anonymous except to the source and destination.

  12. “The question of Bitcoin provides a useful tool to delineate between those who opt for control or choice.”

    As does drug prohibition, school vouchers, and many other issues.

    1. But Bitcoin is especially useful in that regard because it doesn’t have hx & tradition prejudicing respondents.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.