The implementation of full body scans and pat downs by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as part of security enhancements at our nation's airports will cause 48% of Americans and 42% of more frequent fliers to choose a different mode of transportation when possible, a recent Zogby International Poll finds.
Overall, 61% of the 2,032 likely voters polled from Nov. 19 to Nov. 22, oppose the use of full body scans and TSA pat downs. Republicans (69%) and Independents (65%) oppose in greater numbers than Democrats (50%).
Of those polled, 52% believe the enhanced security measures will not prevent terrorist activity, almost half (48%) say it is a violation of privacy rights, 33% say they should not have to go through enhanced security methods to get on an airplane, and 32% believe the full body scans and TSA pat downs to be sexual harassment. This is in line with frequent fliers (fly more than once every 3 months), as 53% say the enhanced measures will not prevent terrorist activity, 48% believe it's a violation of their privacy rights, 41% say they should not have to go through it to get on an airplane, and 35% believe it is sexual harassment.
While roughly the same amount believe the full body scans and TSA pat downs are necessary to keep the country safe and prevent terrorist activities on airplanes (34% of frequent fliers vs. 29% overall), frequent fliers are more likely to feel that the enhanced methods are not needed because metal detectors and bag screenings are working fine (33% to 26%). Just 16% of frequent fliers say no one has an absolute right to fly and if people don't like the security measures, then just don't fly compared to 20% of everyone polled.
The Zogby poll also finds when given a choice, likely voters will choose full body scan over the TSA pat downs (48% to 7%), but 42% would rather have neither. Frequent fliers feel about the same.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Policy opposition to the TSA has been muted because of repeated polls showing something like 81% of Americans support the new screening methods. Of course most Americans don't fly, and most Americans hold opinions even when their only information on the subject was prompted with a pollster's question. Even I, someone who has been annoyed with the TSA since 2002, was alright with the naked scanners—until I learned that they weren't any more effective than a standard metal detector, that they had potential radiation problems, and that they were considerably slower than regular metal detectors. Well, good news. The "don't touch my junk" publicity has shifted public opinion dramatically. According to Zogby via WWF,