Sixty-four percent (64%) of American voters believe that freedom is more important than democracy. A ScottRasmussen.com national survey found that 36% take the opposite view and believe that democracy is more important (see question wording and topline results).
The differences among most demographic groups were modest. For example, 68% of voters under 50 said freedom was more important. Among voters 50 and up, that figure was 59%. On a regional basis, voters in the South and West were somewhat more likely to choose freedom compared to voters in the Northeast and Midwest (see crosstabs).
There was, however, a significant ideological divide. The most liberal voters were evenly divided when asked to choose between freedom (48%) and democracy (52%). The most conservative voters preferred freedom by a 3-to-1 margin (76% to 24%).
Seventy percent (70%) of Republicans and 68% of Independents said freedom is more important. Democrats are evenly divided (53% say freedom, 47% democracy). A majority of white Democrats (58%) say democracy is more important while most Black and Hispanic Democrats (65%) say freedom matters more.
This national survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted August 6-7, 2018 for ScottRasmussen.com by HarrisX, a leading research company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology and the Demographic profile of our sample). The Margin of Error is +/- 3.1 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
A pair of related survey questions also highlighted the importance of freedom to most Americans. Asked to choose between freedom, equality, and self-governance, 59% said freedom was the most important and only 8% said it was the least important of the three ideals. Thirty-three percent (33%) said equality was the most important while 24% considered it the least important. Self-governance was seen as most important by 9% and least important by 68%.
Given that three-way choice, 65% of white voters say freedom is the most important ideal while 67% of black voters name equality. Hispanic voters are evenly divided.
Scott Rasmussen wrote a column earlier this year exploring the tensions between freedom and democracy. A column released yesterday showed that the midterm elections may be determined by a group of voters that neither political party can comprehend: the 26% who don’t think things would be much different today if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 presidential election.
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