Tuesday, December 28, 2010
American voters believe free market competition will protect Internet users more than government regulation and fear that regulation will be used to push a political agenda.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 21% of likely U.S. Voters want the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the Internet as it does radio and television. Fifty-four percent (54%) are opposed to such regulation, and 25% are not sure.
The survey was conducted shortly after the FCC decided on a party line vote to impose so-called "net neutrality" regulations on the Internet world. Republicans and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly oppose FCC regulation of the Internet, while Democrats are more evenly divided. Those who use the Internet most are most opposed to FCC regulations.
By a 52% to 27% margin, voters believe that more free market competition is better than more regulation for protecting Internet users. Republicans and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly share this view, but a plurality of Democrats (46%) think more regulation is the better approach.
Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters believe that the FCC would use its regulatory authority to promote a political agenda. Half that number (28%) disagree and believe the commission would regulate in an unbiased manner.
The partisan divide is the same on this question as the others. A plurality of Democrats sees an unbiased regulatory approach, while most Republicans and unaffiliated voters fear a political agenda.
The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters nationwide was conducted on December 23, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
As you would expect, there is a huge gap between the Political Class and Mainstream Voters on this topic. Most Mainstream voters see free market competition as the best way to protect Internet users, but most in the Political Class prefer more regulation. Seventy-eight percent (78%) in the Political Class believe the regulations would be handled in an unbiased manner, while 72% of Mainstream voters believe they would be used to promote a political agenda.
The issue has attracted little public notice. Just 20% are following news of the net neutrality regulations Very Closely. Another 35% say they're following it somewhat closely.
Most Americans (55%) continue to favor FCC regulation of radio and TV.
The latest results are similar to earlier data showing little support for FCC regulation of the Internet.
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters say the government's most important role is to protect their individual rights. Twenty-four percent (24%) believe a government's primary purpose is to ensure fairness and social justice, while 10% say it's to manage the economy.
But nearly half (48%) of American Adults see the government today as a threat to individual rights rather than a protector of those rights.