Poll: 24 Percent of Americans Believe States Have a Right to Secede

By Elizabeth Harrington | June 5, 2012 | 4:30pm EDT

Flag of the Second Vermont Republic secession movement. (Photo courtesy of Vermont Republic)

(CNSNews.com) – Nearly one-quarter of Americans believe that states have the right to secede, according to a recent poll from Rasmussen Reports -- up 10 percentage points in two years.

The latest poll is just one of many that shows that Americans have “serious and growing concern about the federal government,” according to Scott Rasmussen, founder and president of Rasmussen Reports.

According to the phone survey released Sunday, 24 percent of Americans believe that states should be able to withdraw from the United States to form their own country, if they want. Nearly 60 percent (59) of Americans say they don’t believe states have the right to secede, while 16 percent are undecided.

“We do see that people are concerned about the federal government in a variety of ways,” Rasmussen told CNSNews.com. “51 percent believe that it’s a threat to individual liberties.

“It may just be part of a growing frustration with other aspects of the federal government,” he said.

“But I think it’s important to keep it in perspective, growing to 24 percent still means that only one out of four Americans think that states have the right to secede, it’s not that they’re advocating for it,” Rasmussen said.

Though a minority, the number has been growing.  In 2010, when Rasmussen first conducted the poll, only 14 percent of Americans said states had the right to secede.  A year later, the number was up to 21 percent.

The poll, which surveyed 1,000 adults between May 29 and 30, asked, among other questions: “Do individual states have the right to leave the United States and form an independent country?”

Only 10 percent of poll respondents said it was likely a state would attempt to secede in the next 25 years -- “a pretty generous time frame,” Rasmussen said.  “So it’s not seen as a very realistic possibility,” he added.

The survey also asked whether the federal government is a protector or a threat to individual rights, to which a majority -- 51 percent -- said the government presents a danger to liberty.

“[O]nly 34 percent of adults in this country regard the federal government more as a protector of individual rights,” according to the poll.

“More Americans than ever are expressing strong concern that the federal government will run out of money,” according to Rasmussen Reports, who also found that 64 percent of Americans are at least somewhat worried that the U.S. government will run out of money.  43 percent are “very worried” that the U.S. government will run out of money, while 31 percent of adults are not worried and 10 percent are “not at all worried.”

The total federal debt currently stands at $15.8 trillion.

Rasmussen told CNSNews.com that recent polling shows that Americans have a “growing frustration” with the federal government.

“What we’re seeing in a whole range of surveys is serious and growing concern about the federal government, about the role of government in American life,” he said.  “Only about one out of five Americans believe the government today has the consent of the governed.  People believe that America’s best days -- about half the nation believes -- America’s best days have come and gone.”

“Only 16 percent believe that today’s children will be better off than their parents,” he said, “that’s a horrifically low number for America.”

“And then you’ve got individual proposals, [New York City] Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg’s proposal of banning large sugary drinks is supported by 24 percent of Americans, 2 out of 3 oppose it,” Rasmussen added.  “So there’s this frustration that’s been building.”

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