Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note:This is another in a series of monthly “Freedom Index” polls conducted exclusively for WND by the public opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies.
Nearly one American in four routinely censors his or her own thoughts “much” or “always” under President Obama’s administration, and those who believe their personal liberties have plunged since inauguration day have grown significantly from 49 percent to more than 55 percent in just one month.
This month, of course, was when Democrats rammed through a bill that essentially nationalizes health care, creating new requirements for consumers to purchase a government-chosen plan or face penalties.
The WND Freedom Index poll from Wenzel Strategies shows even one in 10 Democrats – whose party controls both the White House and Congress – believes there’s been a big decrease in freedoms.
“Largely on the negative reaction by men to the actions of Obama and Democrats in Washington, the Freedom Index has dipped again to its near all-time low, sitting at 46.7 on a 100-point scale,” said Fritz Wenzel in his analysis of the results.
“Simply put, Americans are growing by the month more pessimistic about their freedoms and their fear that government is trying to take them away.”
He continued, “In the 10 months since the inauguration of the WorldNetDaily.com Freedom Index, it has dropped nearly 11 points on the 100-point scale, and has dropped from a decidedly positive position last spring to a decidedly negative position today.”
The WND/Wenzel Poll was conducted by telephone from March 22-24 using an automated telephone technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers nationwide. The survey included 30 questions and carries a 95 percent confidence interval. It included 792 likely voters. It carries a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points.
On the issue of censoring, the question was asked: “Do you find yourself self-censoring thoughts that you hold on a given subject because of fear of harm, punishment, social rejection, or some other penalty?”
Ten percent said they censor “much,” and another 13.3 percent said they censor “always.” The figures were 11 percent for Republicans and independents who reported censoring “much” and more than 16 percent in each category for those who censor “always.”
Even among Democrats, nearly 7 percent censor “always” and another 8 percent censor “much.”
The coast-to-coast worry over a loss of liberty showed up in other areas, too.
“Asked about worshipping freely without fear of some social penalty or punishment, the percentages of men and women who said they believe Americans can do so without fear of some penalty remain in the majority, but the percentage of men who said there would be some fear of penalty or punishment jumped from 16 percent just a month ago to 25 percent now, meaning that one in four men now believe Americans should fear some retribution as a result of their choice of how and whom to worship,” Wenzel said in his analysis.
“The same phenomenon occurred in response to a question in the index about how people feel about governments using various technologies to spy on them or otherwise intrude into their privacy. Men were much more concerned about governments using technologies, specifically including electronic medical records of patients, to spy on citizens. Women are less concerned this month than last about the same question,” he said.
“There are different possible explanations for this. It may be emotional exhaustion or relief among women that the year-long political fight over health care in Washington appears to be over – at least for now. Or it may be that, for those women with husbands, the men have taken over as the one in the relationship who now worries,” he said.
He said the poll revealed men and women are reacting in dramatically different ways.
“This survey, which was fielded the day after the House of Representatives voted to approve the Senate health care bill that was passed last Christmas eve, shows men are much more concerned about their own personal freedoms and the freedoms of all Americans. In dramatic contrast, women are actually more confident about these same freedoms,” Wenzel said.
“One month ago, 51 percent of men said they believed that, under President Obama, but that number has jumped to 65 percent in our latest polling, a dramatic show of discontent. But six percent of women this month said they actually felt they have more freedoms now, compared to last month, under President Obama,” Wenzel said.
“This may very well be because women are pleased that the health care bill may actually free them from concerns, while men are likely very concerned about how they are going to pay for it and the impact it will have on their freedom.
The Freedom Index is based on a 100-point scale based on poll respondents’ answers to 10 questions which sample different aspects of freedom in America, including freedom of speech, association, worship and assembly. An index rating of 50 is even, with higher ratings signaling positive feelings about freedom and lower ratings signaling negative feelings.
The poll showed 36 percent of Americans feel “not very free” or “not at all free” to speak their minds “without fear of punishment, penalty, or retribution.” More than one in five said they had concerns over penalties for the way they choose to worship.
The index reached its lowest point ever – 46.3 – in December and nudged upward in January but now has fallen for two straight months.