In a finding that
shocked some observers, a new poll says that barely half of Americans - just 51
percent - would vote for passage of the U.S. Constitution if the same document
approved over two centuries ago were presented in ballot form today.
The survey, conducted by
America and released Tuesday, said 22 percent of respondents would vote
against the Constitution while another 27 percent said they were not sure
whether they would support it.
POA pollsters said Tuesday's results did not differ significantly from a
similar poll conducted by the polling firm a year ago.
survey, conducted in June 1999, showed slightly less support for the
Constitution. Then, only 49.5 percent of respondents said they would support
the Constitution if a referendum were held. Twenty-three percent said they
would vote against it while the same number - 27 percent - said they weren't
"The lack of support for the Constitution probably stems from the high
levels of public disgust with government and politics today," said Scott
Rasmussen, President of Rasmussen Research, last June. "Recent surveys
have found that 72 percent of Americans now view the federal government as a
special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests. Only
one-out-of-four Americans believe their own representative in Congress is the
best person for the job. Less than 40 percent think the government today
reflects the will of the people," he added.
In Tuesday's survey, only 35 percent of respondents said the federal
government operates under the Constitution, while an additional 48 percent said
Washington, D.C., routinely flouts its constitutional limitations.
"Although a majority, 56 percent, believe the Constitution is the best
way to run our country," the new poll said, "37 percent feel it needs
to be updated to reflect major societal changes of the past 200 years."
Portrait of America said women and younger adults were more inclined to support
constitutional revisions, while men and older Americans were more likely to
support the Constitution as-is.
In other results:
51 percent of the country says Congress should pay for 100,000 additional
teachers in local school systems, even though the Constitution does not
authorize the government to provide such funding;
Only 36 percent believe Congress should follow the Constitution;
54 percent choose to support the Constitution and its restrictions rather
than a congressional override when asked about government funding for the arts;
53 percent of younger adults and 45 percent of women prefer to support art
funding even if it is not authorized by the Constitution;
81 percent of respondents said First Amendment protections of freedom of
speech are generally good for the country while 7 percent disagree;
- 64 percent said if they could modify the Constitution they would give less
power to Congress while 12 percent said they would grant Congress more power.
Also in the poll, POA said 63 percent of respondents believe Congress is
using the Constitution as an excuse to ban school prayer; only a fourth of the
population think lawmakers and political leaders really believe the
Constitution bans such prayers.
Thirty-five percent said dropping the Second Amendment from the Constitution
and making personal firearms ownership unlawful would make the U.S. a safer
country, while 42 percent said the nation would become more dangerous. Another
16 percent said eliminating the Second Amendment would have no impact on
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