Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

New Poll: Americans Want Congress to Vote on Military Force Before Midterms, Say an Ebola Outbreak Is Likely and Kids Should Be Required to Get Vaccinations


Nearly four out of five Americans, 78 percent, say Congress should return to Capitol Hill before the November elections to hold a vote on the authorization for use of military force against Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq, the latest Reason-Rupe national telephone poll finds.  Just 16 percent of Americans say Congress should not return to Washington before November to hold a vote on military action in Syria and Iraq.


When asked why Congress didn't vote on the authorization of military force before leaving for recess, 63 percent of Americans say members of Congress don't want to put their vote on the official record, 15 percent say Congress doesn't believe President Obama needs its authorization for military action, and 8 percent feel Congress simply didn't have enough time to hold the vote.

Two-thirds, 66 percent, of Americans tell Reason-Rupe they support the US airstrikes against Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in Syria and Iraq.  Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe US ground troops would be necessary to defeat ISIS but only 43 percent currently support sending US ground troops to fight in Syria and Iraq, while 52 percent oppose.

There is even less support for arming Syrian rebels — 35 percent of Americans favor, and 55 percent oppose supplying Syrian rebels with US weapons to fight ISIS.  That opposition could stem from the fear that those weapons will eventually be used against Americans. The public estimates there is a 78 percent chance that weapons provided to Syrian rebels will ultimately be used against America or its allies.

Paying for the War Against ISIS

When asked, open-ended, how long they expect the current military action against ISIS to last, the median answer was two years.

When it comes to paying for the war against ISIS, the public is split between raising taxes and cutting spending. To fund the military action, 42 percent of Americans say they'd raise taxes — 34 percent would increase taxes only on the wealthy and another 8 percent would raise taxes on everyone.  Nearly the same amount, 39 percent, favor cutting spending — 35 percent want to cut general federal spending and an additional 4 percent want to cut entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Six percent of Americans prefer borrowing money to pay for the war. 

Reason-Rupe asked Americans what federal spending they'd cut first to pay for the war against ISIS — 19 percent would start with cuts to social safety net programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance; 17 percent would reduce infrastructure and transportation spending; 9 percent would cut science and medical research; 7 percent would cut Social Security or Medicare; 3 percent would decrease education spending; and 2 percent would cut veterans programs. Twenty-three percent selected a variety of minor programs not presented as options and 16 percent said they didn't know which program they'd cut.

Comparing Bush and Obama and Revisionist History on the Iraq War

While the Iraq war was very popular when it was launched, a majority of Americans, 51 percent, now say they recall being opposed to the war in 2003. Just 39 percent say they supported the war in Iraq when it started in 2003. By comparison, a March 2003 national Pew survey found that 72 percent supported the US war in Iraq.

Eighty-three percent of Americans think the war in Iraq has either increased the threat of terrorism (38 percent) or didn't make a difference (45 percent) on the amount of terrorism, while 14 percent believe the war in Iraq reduced the threat of terrorism.

Reason-Rupe finds the number of Americans who say President Obama is doing a better job than President George W. Bush on foreign policy increased slightly from 32 percent in September 2013 to 35 percent in October 2014. One-third of Americans say Obama is doing a worse job than his predecessor and 28 percent say he is doing no better or worse. 

Approval Ratings for President Obama, Congress

Thirty-eight percent of Americans approve of the way President Obama is handling foreign policy, 51 percent disapprove.

Overall, 43 percent of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing, while 50 percent disapprove.

Congress' approval rating is 19 percent, with 73 percent disapproving.

Midterm Elections

Forty-two percent of registered voters say they'll vote for the Democratic congressional candidate in their district, while 33 percent say they'll vote for the Republican candidate and 13 percent suggest they'll vote for a third party or independent candidate.

About half of voters, 53 percent, are satisfied with the US House and US Senate candidates they have to choose from. That satisfaction grows to 57 percent for state-level candidates and 63 percent for candidates running for local offices.  

Ebola and Vaccinations

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died on Wednesday.  In August 2014, 40 percent of Americans thought an Ebola outbreak in the United States was likely. Now, 62 percent of Americans tell Reason-Rupe an Ebola outbreak in a US city is likely, while 36 percent say an outbreak in the US is not likely. Twenty-three percent of the public believes an Ebola outbreak in a US city is "very likely" and 39 percent say it is "somewhat likely." 

Six in 10 Americans believe all children should be required to receive vaccinations for diseases like mumps and measles, while 37 percent feel parents should be able to refuse vaccinations.  Just over half, 52 percent, of Americans, say unvaccinated children should not be allowed to attend public schools, 44 percent think children who haven't been vaccinated should be allowed in schools.

Mandatory Minimums and Voting Rights for Drug Offenders

Nearly eight in 10 Americans, 77 percent, favor eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. And 73 percent favor restoring voting rights for nonviolent drug offenders who have served their sentences.

Police Favorability, Misconduct

Seventy-two percent of Americans have a favorable view of the police, down from 78 percent in April 2014.  With several police incidents in the news recently, 47 percent of Americans say police officers are using excessive force more than they have in the past, while 43 percent say the number of excessive force cases aren't going up or down.

When officers are guilty of misconduct, 50 percent of Americans believe they are held accountable, while 45 percent do not believe police officers are held accountable for their misconduct. 

Seven in 10 Americans oppose the use of racial profiling by police officers. Forty-five percent of Americans believe the criminal justice system treats whites, African-Americans and Hispanics equally, while 44 percent think the criminal system treats whites more fairly than it treats blacks and Hispanics.

About the Reason-Rupe Poll

The Reason-Rupe poll interviewed 1,004 adults on mobile (503) and landline (501) phones from October 1-6, 2014. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide survey.

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  1. no more fookin polls.

    1. Don’t you want to know how the mob wants to rule you?

      1. This is a good point.

  2. Poll me, baby! Yeah that’s it…ooo yes do that again…HEY NOT SO HARD!

  3. Outside of depressing me, polls are meaningless. It’s roughly equivalent to democracy as a cure all.

  4. I’d rather prefer that Congress declare war or otherwise legally initiate hostilities before we start blowing people and stuff up, except in the case of fending off attacks on our territory/possessions.

    1. Sympathizer!

      1. I’m a known constitutionalist.

        1. Worse: You do it in public.

          1. That’s because some hacker posted pictures of me reading the Constitution.

            1. Jennifer Lawrence you ain’t

              1. Of course not; I’m male. By definition, less aesthetically pleasing.

                1. The whole thing shows how sexist society is. Imagine if instead of a bunch of top shelf pretty white girls they had leaked pictures of some middle aged white guy public figure and the pictures had been of something really embarrassing like him modeling his wife’s lingerie (NTTAWWT). The whole thing would have been a national joke and the victim forever a punch line. No one would have considered it a crime or had any sympathy for him. But let a naked selfie of a white girl get out and it is the crime of the century.

            2. As one of the people who had paid your website for access to those pictures, I was pretty angry to see everyone else see them for free and not even be offered a refund.

    2. Everything is our territory.

      1. That’s certainly one way of looking at it.

  5. Nearly four out of five Americans, 78 percent, are racists who think that modern society should follow a Constitution written by white male slaveholders 100 years ago, or was it 400.

    1. Well we did know that the white patriarchy was firmly in charge.

  6. OT

    My end of the month road trip will traverse through Dallas, Shreveport, New Orleans via US 49, Biloxi, Mobile, and Ozark, AL. I will travel through Montgomery and Jackson on the way back.

    Any Reasonoids who wish to enjoy the honor of my company, let me know.

    1. Is that some kind of blues trail trip?

      1. I know I haz a sad just reading that post :*(

        1. One of these days I am driving highway 61 from New Orleans up to Memphis. Not sure when, but some day.

      2. Nope- 5 yr Peace Corps reunion in New Orleans, then off to hang out with my brother.

        1. Have fun. Wish I was closer to New Orleans. A five year peace corps reunion sounds like a haven for dumb hippie girls with loose morals. Just say something about sustainable development and you are in.

          1. wtf are “loose morals”?

            If you’re referring to promiscuity, there’s no “moral” component to that whatsoever.

        2. Remember no means yes and yes means anal.

          1. + 1 tube of KY Jelly

  7. Can anyone provide for me a logical reason why the voting rights of ex-cons are suspended?

    FYTW doesn’t count!

    Is there a fear that the ex-con vote is so large that they could use that power at the ballot box to vote in a candidate that would be somehow sympathetic to their concerns over that of the law-abiding citizenry? I realize that most candidates are on some level criminal themselves, but could you imagine one campaigning for the ex-con vote?

    1. The logic is that people who commit felonies lose their franchise as an additional punishment for their crimes. I can’t tell you the original thinking behind it other than people don’t like felons and don’t like them voting. It is not a new thing though. It has been that way for a long time.

      It really was never much of a problem back when only serious crimes were considered felonies. Now that everything up to including speeding, if the speed is high enough, is considered a felony, it is a much bigger issue.

    2. “but could you imagine one campaigning for the ex-con vote?”

      Al Franken got into the Senate on the basis of felon’s votes.

      1. Which is actually a pretty good argument against allowing ex-con’s to vote.

  8. The only polls I care about are Millenials’ thoughts on anything and everything! More, more, more!

  9. Possible libertarian solution to child vaccination disagreement: if your child gets a disease because you refused a vaccination, you are 100% responsible for the cost of not only his treatment, but the treatment of anyone he infects.

    Fair? Workable?

    1. Fair? Workable?

      What if you were vaccinated but the vaccine failed? Would you be absolved of the costs of infecting someone because you tried? Intentions?

      Screw children, do I have to get vaccinated? For the record, I believe that I would be responsible for the costs if I were to get a disease and pass it on to someone else.

      1. Marshall, Can you define “intent” or do you simply know it when you see it. Life is risky. Who did you blame for your STDs.

  10. While the Iraq war was very popular when it was launched, a majority of Americans, 51 percent, now say they recall being opposed to the war in 2003. Just 39 percent say they supported the war in Iraq when it started in 2003.

    I will admit to being one of the people who supported the Iraq War in 2003, although I now regret it. After 9/11, I was so full of rage, fear, and anguish that I let my emotions get the better of me.

    1. Same. I’ve also learned a lot more about the middle-east since then and I regret it even more.

      The only states that are going to survive are Egypt, Iran, and Israel. Everything else is up for grabs.

    2. Yes, me too. I thought the Iraq War would be much quicker and that the US would be out in a year or two. And that it would, for once and all, resolve the 20+ year problem of Saddam Hussein. Which it did it did of course, but at far too high a cost.

    3. You may be the most honest man on the internet.

  11. Who cares what the public thinks. According to Annenberg only 1/3 can name the branches of govt.

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