Just 10% of all voters believe the government should be allowed to do anything that a majority of voters want. Seventy-nine percent (79%) say there should be legal limits on government to protect the natural and civil rights of individuals. Ten percent (10%) more are not sure.I find it bizarre that there are any Americans of the "likely voter" persuasion who think the majority should always prevail over the individual. Maybe they didn't understand the question. Maybe they think that the majority in America is such that it would never agree to anything seriously violative of anything that ought to be conceived of as an individual right.
Ninety-two percent (92%) agree that it is important for there to be strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom, and that includes 72% who think it’s Very Important.
The poll also asked "Which is more important: ensuring that leaders are selected by voters or insuring that there are strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom?" 54% chose rights. Only 37% chose democracy first.
Do you think Rasmussen is doing this poll now in an effort to embolden the Supreme Court as it considers the health-care law... or, more modestly, that it's prepping the public to embrace a decision striking down the law? I note the absence of a question about whether the federal government has only limited, enumerated powers, which would be the basis for striking down the law. That case is not about individual rights. But speaking of unasked poll questions, I'd like to see a poll that asked whether the requirement that everyone buy comprehensive health insurance is more of a problem because it may exceed Congress's enumerated powers or because it may infringe on individual rights.
Even though this poll didn't ask the legally relevant question, the linked article reporting the poll ends with a reference to an earlier poll that said 69% think Congress lacks the power to require everyone to buy health insurance and 54% expect Supreme Court to strike down that requirement.
By the way, Rasmussen divides its "likely voters" into 2 categories: "Political Class" and "Mainstream." On the question whether democracy or rights were more important, there was a radical divergence, with 85% of the Political Class putting democracy first and 62% of Mainstream folks putting rights first. Now, what's really fascinating is to think about that divergence in connection with the questions they use to figure out whether to put the various poll respondents into the Mainstream or the Political Class category:
-- Generally speaking, when it comes to important national issues, whose judgment do you trust more - the American people or America’s political leaders?That is, you are categorized as "Political Class" if you don't trust the people and you do trust the government. Why are these the people who think "ensuring that leaders are selected by voters" is more important than "insuring that there are strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom"? It would seem that these people — whoever they are! — are not really big enthusiasts about democracy. It's more that they are against "strict limits on government" — which was the phrase in the question asking for a preference for democracy or rights. To pick rights, you had to warm up to the concept of "strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom."
-- Some people believe that the federal government has become a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests. Has the federal government become a special interest group?
-- Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors?
Strict is a strong word, and it can rub you either way when you hear the pollster ask the question. It will jump out, but which way will it jump out? The populist "Mainstream" people may, perhaps, pull up the notion of staunchly defended rights against a potentially oppressive government. The "Political Class" person, by contrast, pictures government hampered by overstated, inflated ideas about supposed rights.
And please don't complain about the way I've phrased the poll. I'm not trying to be a professional-style pollster! Just pick the answer that's closer to how you feel. If you want to expatiate about the actual images that rolled through your head, tell us all about it in the comments.