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.
Voters in America are suggesting they may not be done cleaning house in Washington, even after handing the Republican Party a massive victory – and control – in the U.S. House of Representatives in the Nov. 2 mid-term elections.
The November WND Freedom Index poll, taken just after the results of the election were known, revealed that instead of an upsurge in confidence that Washington now would follow the will of the population, there was little movement.
Americans, concluded pollster Fritz Wenzel, are considering the “changes they made to their national legislature and wonder[ing] whether they will have any impact in the direction in which the nation is headed.”
He explained that the historic sweep of Republicans into power in the U.S. House of Representatives, a gain of more than five dozen seats, was triggered in large part by deep dissatisfaction with the leadership of Democrats, “and their apparent willingness to govern against the will of their own constituents. ”
But after the election, the index barely moved, inching up from 49.3 in September to 49.4 this month, he reported.
The November WND Freedom Index poll was conducted Nov. 5-7 with an automated technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers nationwide. It contacted 1,656 people, has a confidence interval of 95 percent and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.37 percentage points.
There continued signs of discontent toward Washington, Wenzel reported.
The index, which is a rating based on a 100-point scale stemming from the polling results from 10 questions that measure different aspects of American freedom today, is apparently stable ahead of what could be dramatic changes in Washington starting in January, he said.
“A key sticking point in the index continues to spell trouble for President Obama. Asked whether America has seen an increase or decrease in freedom under the Obama administration, 37 percent said they have seen an increase in freedoms under Obama, while 46 percent said they have sensed a decrease in freedoms,” Wenzel documented.
“Another 18 percent said there has been a moderate loss of freedoms under Obama. Men were significantly more likely to say their freedoms have decreased significantly – 50 percent said as much, while 42 percent of women said the same thing,” he reported.
“That nearly two out of three Americans felt they had lost at least some of their freedoms under Obama is a powerful indictment against Washington’s intrusiveness, and could be a key factor why the tea party movement that began sprouting up early last year has had such staying power. When Americans feel a widely held core value is under attack, they react with decisiveness. There could be no clearer message from these landmark midterm elections,” Wenzel said.
The index, which assesses perspectives on freedoms of speech, association, worship, assembly and more, revealed that a similar percentage also said governments at all levels today are using technology to become more intrusive into the lives of everyday citizens.
On the scale, an index rating of 50 is dead level even, with ratings above signaling positive feelings about freedom and ratings below that point signaling negative feelings. When the index was launched in 2009, it was in the 57 range. It fell off a cliff after a few months of declines when the arguments over Obamacare, the president’s takeover of health care decision-making nationwide, developed about a year ago.
“Forty percent said governments have used such technology as scanners, cameras, computerized health records and other technology to intrude into the lives of citizens. Another 28 percent said there has been at least a moderate amount of intrusion through the use of technology. Those in the West were least concerned about this intrusiveness, while those in the South were most concerned. Women were somewhat more concerned than men,” the analysis said.
“Overall, having made bold changes in reaction to an activist federal government out of step with American traditions and constitutional values, citizens are holding their collective breath to see if the change they voted for will actually come to pass,” Wenzel said.
The index also revealed that nearly one American in three feels not at all or not very free to speak their minds without fear of punishment, penalty or retribution. Those with the highest concerns were in the GOP (45 percent) and among independents (33 percent). Democrats, still holding the White House and the majority in the Senate, felt otherwise, with more than 60 percent feeling “very free” to speak their minds.
Freedom of association fell into the same pattern, with more than 36 percent of the GOP feeling some or great fear of punishment for the people with whom they choose to affiliate. Independents were at more than 31 percent. But. Democrats by a nearly 60 percent majority had “no” or “little” fear of their associations.
Nearly one in five Americans overall feared punishment for the way they worship, with that figure 25 percent for independents and nearly 23 percent for GOP, but only 11 percent for Democrats.
And about 20 percent of both the GOP and independents self-censor their own thoughts for fear of harm, while only 11 percent of Dems fell into that category.