New Reason-Rupe National Poll Examines Public’s Opinions on Drones, the Nanny State, Minimum Wage, Immigration and Health Care

A majority of Americans, 57 percent, believe it is unconstitutional for the president of the United States to order the killing of American citizens who are suspected of being terrorists, a new Reason-Rupe poll finds.

Even more, 59 percent, say they are concerned “the government may abuse its power” when it comes to using drone strikes on American citizens who are suspected of being terrorists.

As the use of drones by domestic law enforcement agencies grows, 60 percent of Americans are now concerned that their local police departments might utilize drones to invade their privacy.

The public is split, 47-47, on whether or not they “should have the right to destroy” a drone that is taking pictures or videos of their home.

The Reason-Rupe poll conducted live interviews with 1,002 adults on mobile (502) and landline (500) phones from February 21-25, 2013. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percent. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide survey.

Presidential, Congressional Approval

Nearly six in ten Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction. But 51 percent approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing, 43 percent disapprove. The president’s handling of the economy gets lower marks: 47 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove. But nothing in the Reason-Rupe poll gets lower marks than Congress: 77 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, just 14 percent approve.

Minimum Wage

In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed raising the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.00 an hour. Two-thirds of Americans favor the president’s proposal.

However, if raising the minimum wage would cause some employers to lay off workers, only 37 percent say they’d still support raising it and 56 percent would oppose it.

If the minimum wage is increased, 42 percent expect that it would reduce the number of jobs in the country, 41 percent anticipate it would have no impact and 13 percent believe raising the minimum wage would increase the number of jobs.

Health Care Law

As the president’s signature health care law nears the three-year anniversary of its signing, 31 percent of Americans believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has made the country better off, while 37 percent feel it has made the country worse off.

Although “affordable” is in the law’s name, 58 percent of Americans say the Affordable Care Act has not made an impact on the affordability of health care, 26 percent say it has actually made it harder to afford health care and 13 percent say it has made it easier to afford health care.

Banning Soda and Energy Drinks for Public Health

New York City is about to prohibit restaurants, food carts, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now encouraging the state government to follow his lead. Over seven in ten Americans, however, disagree with Mr. Bloomberg. Seventy-one percent say the sale of soft drinks larger than 16 ounces should be allowed in theaters, restaurants and other venues.

Nearly the same number, 68 percent, say banning large servings of soda is not an effective way to fight obesity.

Meanwhile in Chicago, one of the city’s aldermen is calling for a ban on energy drinks like Red Bull, 5-hour Energy and Monster. Reason-Rupe finds 59 percent of Americans believe the sale of energy drinks should be allowed.


Fifty-five percent of those surveyed say unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States should be allowed to stay in the country and apply for citizenship. Twenty-seven percent say unauthorized immigrants should be deported.

2016 Presidential Race

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is running well ahead of all other 2016 presidential contenders. When asked, open-ended, who they would most like to see run for president in 2016, Clinton garnered 22 percent of support. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio were each named by 3 percent of respondents. Vice President Joe Biden got 2 percent and Rep. Paul Ryan got 1 percent.

Full Poll

The full poll is online here and additional Reason-Rupe poll resources are available here. This is the latest in a series of Reason-Rupe public opinion surveys dedicated to exploring what Americans really think about government and major issues. This Reason Foundation project is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.