One-in-five Americans believe individual states have the right to break away from the country, although a majority doesn’t believe it will actually happen.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 21% of American Adults think individual states have the right to leave the United States and form an independent country. Most (64%) believe states do not have this right, while 14% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
However, only 29% of adults feel it’s at least somewhat likely that some states will try to leave the United States over the next 25 years or so. This finding includes 13% who believe it’s Very Likely. But 62% say it is not very or not at all likely that some states will secede from the union. These findings are nearly identical to those found last year.
Just 19% believe it’s at least somewhat likely that the United States will split up into regional groups of states in the next 25 or so years, down from 23% a year ago. Seventy percent (70%) say this outcome is not likely. These results include eight percent (8%) who believe it is Very Likely the country will break up into regional groups and 27% who say it is Not At All Likely to happen.
Seventy-three percent (73%) think it would be bad if the United States split up into regional groups of states. Just eight percent (8%) feel that would be a good thing, while 19% more are not sure.
The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on May 30-31, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
Men are more than twice as likely as women to believe states have the right to secede. But there’s virtually no disagreement between the two over the likelihood of states breaking away either individually or in regional groups.
Republicans and adults not affiliated with either major political party believe more than Democrats that states have the right to secede and that some are likely to do so in the next few years. But, still, a majority of all three groups view secession as unlikely.
There’s also little partisan disagreement that it would be a bad thing if the United States split up into regional groups of states.
In the midst of the legal battle between the U.S. Justice Department and the state of Arizona over the latter’s new immigration law, 67% of Likely U.S. Voters said a state should have the right to enforce immigration laws if it believes the federal government is not enforcing them. However, voters are still divided over whether the federal government or individual states should be the primary enforcers of immigration laws.
Polling in April found that 41% of Likely Voters believe the federal government should establish a single standard for all health care regulations. However, slightly more voters (45%) say states should be allowed to establish their own individual standards for health care regulation.
More voters than ever oppose the new law’s requirement that every American must have health insurance and think states should have the right to opt out of some or all of the health care law.
In April 2009, a comment from Texas Governor Rick Perry was widely interpreted as suggesting voters in that state might consider secession “if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people.” At that time, 31% of Texas voters said the state had a right to secede from the union and form an independent country. But if put to a vote, 75% preferred to remain in the United States.