Poll: Majority Of Flyers Okay With Body Scanners And Pat Down Searches

A new Rasmussen poll suggests that Americans who fly frequently aren’t nearly as upset about the TSA’s enhanced security procedures as the last two weeks of media coverage would seem to suggest:

Most voters who fly appear comfortable with the federal Transportation Safety Administration’s new airport security measures.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, taken Sunday night at the close of the Thanksgiving holiday travel weekend, finds that 51% rate airline security as good or excellent, while just 16% view it as poor.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Seventy-five percent (75%) of voters who fly at least once a year think it is appropriate to require some passengers to have either a full-body scan or full-body pat down before boarding an airliner. Eighteen percent (18%) disagree and say such measures are not appropriate.

Support for the techniques is even higher among those who fly once a month or more often.

These numbers would seem to support a conclusion that James Joyner made her earlier today:

The 9/11 attacks were almost a decade ago but they’re still a powerful touchstone.  The result is that those who want to fight the system not only have to buck their own government but also endure scorn from a large swath of their fellow countrymen willing to sacrifice pretty much everything in the name of “safety.”

Indeed, and considering that this poll comes nearly a year after the last serious attempt to direct a terror attack on a commercial passenger airline, it would seem that the effort to arouse populist ire against security procedures that are intrusive and arguably not accomplishing anything is unlikely to succeed.

Score one for “safety” over liberty.

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. MarkedMan says:

    As you’ve reported them, the questions seem poorly worded.  I’m very much against the full body search (much less concerned about the porn-o-scanner vision) but if I was asked if I thought airline security was good, I would probably answer “yes”. Meaning that it is discouraging people from bringing bombs on planes.  Or I could answer “no” meaning that it is massive, business-harming overkill.
    And if you asked me if some people should get advanced screening, my answer would be an unhesitating “yes”.  But if you asked me if the methods they are using now to identify such people were appropriate and effective, it would be an unhesitating “no”.

  2. Tano says:

    “Support for the techniques is even higher among those who fly once a month or more often.”

    My goodness, the abuse that some received last week for even suggesting this possibility.

    These numbers would seem to support a conclusion that James Joyner made her earlier today:

    Of course – you guys are right, even when you are dead wrong.

    endure scorn from a large swath of their fellow countrymen willing to sacrifice pretty much everything in the name of “safety.”

    Pretty much everything eh? Talk about hype! You guys got caught up in this massively overblown hype – I can only imagine because you thought you could score some points  for the libertarian team. But you played right into the worst of the media games – fear-mongering, blame-shifting, denigration of those who don’t drink your brand of kool-aid, fantasies that you spoke for the people out there, and if not all the people, then at least all the right kind of people, the educated professional class – the frequent fliers. But you don’t even speak for them.
    Fortunately, the majority of Americans are not like the dittoheads or other wingers. We do not meltdown into blubbering masses of ranting outrage on cue whenever we get the proper instructions from our radio or from a Drudge alert.

  3. Wayne says:

    Where are the results for question # 2 and # 3?
    “Is it appropriate to require “some” passengers” is not the same as “all” passengers. A case of another slanted question.

  4. Terrye says:

    I don’t think people think of it safety over liberty. They just do not think of these measures as that intrusive. I have noticed that a lot of people who dislike this system prefer the Israeli system, but that system requires back ground checks and personal interviews along with physical checks if they think they are necessary. I am sure a lot of Americans would not like someone from the government asking them the purpose of their visit either.
    I have flown and gone through a body scanner, it did not seem like that big a deal to me.

  5. John Burgess says:

    As I’ve said before, I find these new procedures utterly trivial. I undergo far more intrusive procedures to maintain my health purely as a preventive measure. How many cancers have my rectal exams caught? Well, exactly none. Does that mean they’re worthless? I don’t think so.
    Earlier this year, I was hospitalized. Dozen of people, utterly unknown to me, saw my naked body–and my face!–and could not but attach the view of the body to my particular person. Just what did I lose there? What right was savaged like a lamb? Further, if I go to a clothing-optional beach, I end up exposing far more than these scans show, and all for recreation.
    As far as the radiation goes? Again, pretty trivial. I can triple my exposure to background radiation simply by moving to a Rocky Mountain state. This page from Idaho State Univ. on radiation risks is pretty good, IMO. It tells me that there are things I should be worrying about far more than some backscatter scan.