Most Americans may not recognize the term “Deep State,” but they are very concerned about what it does.
A new Monmouth University Poll found 63 percent of Americans were “not familiar” with the term. Thirteen percent were very familiar and 24 percent somewhat.
The pollster describes “Deep State” as the “possible existence of a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy.”
Those entrenched bureaucrats make significant decisions about government actions every day. They could be FBI officials or career staffers in the State Department or any federal agency, most of which have their own armed police forces.
The poll found 23 percent are very worried and another 30 percent are somewhat worried about the government monitoring their activities or invading privacy.
Additionally, 53 percent believe the U.S. government currently monitors or spies on the activities of citizens, and another 29 percent say the spying takes place, it’s just not widespread.
Only one in five, however, believes that such spying is justified.
More than half (53 percent) say it’s justified only “sometimes,” and the rest say “never.”
Monmouth reports the alarm is bipartisan.
“Americans of color on the center and left and NRA members on the right are among those most worried about the reach of government prying into average citizens, lives,” the polling report said. “There are no significant partisan differences – 57 percent of independents, 51 percent of Republicans, and 50 percent of Democrats are at least somewhat worried the federal government is monitoring their activities.”
Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, called it “a worrisome finding.”
“The strength of our government relies on public faith in protecting our freedoms, which is not particularly robust. And it’s not a Democratic or Republican issue. These concerns span the political spectrum,” he said.
The report said Democrats, at 30 percent, and independents, at 31 percent “are somewhat more likely that Republicans (21 percent) to say government monitoring of U.S. citizens is rarely or never justified.”
Among all Americans, 6 in 10 say “unelected or appointed government officials have too much influence in determining federal policy,” said the report. “Democrats (59 percent), Republicans (59 percent) and independents (62 percent) agree that appointed officials hold too much sway in the federal government.”
“We usually expect opinions on the operation of government to shift depending on which party is in charge. But there’s an ominous feeling by Democrats and Republicans alike that a ‘Deep State’ of unelected operatives are pulling the levers of power,” Murray said.
While many may not recognize the term “Deep State,” a full 74 percent believe “this type of apparatus exists in Washington. This includes 27 percent who say it definitely exists and 47 percent who say it probably exists.”
“Anxiety about a possible ‘Deep State’ is prevalent in both parties, but each has key constituent groups who express even greater concerns about the potential for government overreach. This includes racial and ethnic groups who still experience the effects of historical prejudice as well as gun owners who fear their constitutional rights are being threatened,” Murray explained.
“Can those fears be allayed or will they intensify and spread? Or is this just the new normal? This is something we will have to keep tracking.”
The poll, conducted March 2-5 with 803 adults, had a margin of error of plus or minue 3.5 percent.
It found one-third of Americans say it is very important for them to get involved in politics, and another four in 10 say it is somewhat important.
“More than one-third (37 percent) say they have become more politically active since Donald Trump took office while only 6 percent say they are now less active. Another 56 percent say their political activity has not changed much since last year.”
While 22 percent say they are angry with Washington, six in 10 are dissatisfied with the results in the nation’s capitol.