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.
A new poll reveals Americans believe their freedoms are continuing to slip away under President Obama, with more than 49 percent reporting decreases in their personal freedoms under his leadership this month.
The WND Freedom Index poll from Wenzel Strategies shows even one in 10 Democrats believes there’s been a big decrease in freedoms.
“One month into his second year as president, Barack Obama finds himself saddled with some heavy political baggage,” said Fritz Wenzel, president of the polling company. “Two out of three likely voting respondents to the latest WorldNetDaily/Wenzel Strategies poll think the country is headed in the wrong direction, less than half give him positive job approval ratings, and half think that he is responsible for a reduction in freedom in America.
“And that’s after a month where almost nothing happened in Washington,” he said.
The WND/Wenzel telephone survey was conducted Feb. 18–20 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 747 likely voters. It carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.56 percentage points.
The Freedom Index, an assessment on Americans’ perspectives on a basketful of liberties, tipped downward for February, coming in at 47.2. It had been 46.3 in December, its lowest point ever, and it moved up only slightly, to 47.5, for January.
When the index started last year, it was routinely in the 50-plus range. It is based on a 100-point scale based on answers to 10 questions that sample aspects of freedom including freedom of speech, association, worship and assembly.
Wenzel said as things begin moving in Washington again, especially with this week’s renewed push for Obama’s plans for nationalized health care, “those numbers may well get even worse.”
“It was during the heavy political battling over health care legislation in November that Obama took big hits to his approval numbers, and he has spent most of the political capital in his war chest,” Wenzel said.
“Given that his efforts to help Democratic candidates in tough races in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts had all failed, some on his side of the political aisle may be wondering if his political capital is overvalued.”
“The WorldNetDaily.com Freedom Index continues to show that more likely voting Americans nationwide than not believe that, under the Obama administration, they are seeing a reduction in their constitutional freedoms. About half – 49 percent – said so in our February polling, compared to 32 percent who said they thought Obama was causing freedoms to increase,” Wenzel said.
The poll showed that 36 percent of respondents, including nearly 60 percent of the GOP, 40 percent of independents and even 10 percent of Democrats, said there has been a big decrease in personal freedoms. Another 13.1 percent said there had been some decrease.
On other individual freedom issues, the poll revealed 32 percent of Americans believe they are not very free or not free at all to speak their minds without fear of punishment, penalty or retribution.
A full 34 percent of Americans, including almost 20 percent of Democrats, are worried about the retribution that could come over those with whom they associate.
A smaller number, 18 percent, feel there could be punishment or at least investigations based on the manner they choose to worship. But the numbers rocketed to nearly 45 percent when people were asked if there was some or great intrusion because of the government’s use of cameras, scanners and other electronic monitors.
Nearly one person in five had concerns over the ramifications from placing a bumper sticker on their vehicle, and about the same number said they find themselves self-censoring thoughts because “of fear of harm, punishment, social rejection, or some other penalty.”
“It appears as if the nation, much of which felt a real threat to their freedoms by the health care reform proposal and other Democratic initiatives, may have taken a collective sigh of relief [during January] with the election of Republican Scott Brown as senator from Massachusetts,” Wenzel said. “Brown’s presence in the U.S. Senate means Democrats no longer have unchecked power to make sweeping changes to federal law and society, and voters appear to have taken notice.
“However, the February 2010 Freedom Index now stands at 47.2 on a 100–point scale, down three-tenths of a percent from January.”
See detailed results of survey questions:
If there were a controversial cause about which you felt strongly, would you be afraid to attend a local rally to voice your opinion because of fear of retribution, penalty, or government investigation?