New TSA Security Measures Get Dwindling Support in New Jersey

New TSA Security Measures Get Dwindling Support in New Jersey

New Jerseyans generally support the concept of enhanced security, but they disagree with specific techniques
airport security checkpoint

Support among New Jerseyans for new airport security measures introduced in November by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) depends on how the question is asked, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. When initially asked about support for "any airport security measure" or if some security measures "go too far violating personal privacy," 50 percent support any tactic while 41 percent say some procedures go too far. When first asked to think specifically about either the new full body scans or enhanced pat-downs, support for airport security measures overall declines substantially; 39 percent support any procedure while 59 percent say some measures are too intrusive.

Respondents are more in favor of full body scans than pat-downs, by a 62 percent to 54 percent margin. "In the abstract, most people think airport security is always a good thing," said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. "But it's one thing to support security in the abstract and quite another to confront specific procedures. While New Jerseyans generally support the new TSA measures, given the chance to think about it, they are not so thrilled about the possibility of having intimate areas patted down."

The poll of 906 New Jersey adults was conducted Dec. 2-6. The full sample has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points.

Among the findings:

Full body scans are perceived to be significantly less intrusive than pat-downs; only 30 percent of those polled say scans are too intrusive compared to 41 percent who call pat-downs too intrusive.

  • Respondents who fly more frequently are more aware of the controversy caused by the new TSA procedures; 92 percent of frequent flyers are aware of negative publicity surrounding the new TSA security checks compared to 61 percent of those who fly less often.
  • When it comes to using full body scans or pat-downs, women are more supportive than men. Seventy percent of women say the scanners are necessary for security, while 54 percent of men agree. Only 23 percent of women think they are too intrusive, compared to 37 percent of men. The difference in opinion on pat-downs is not as great: 59 percent of women say they are necessary for security, compared to 48 percent of men, while 45 percent of men find pat-downs too intrusive versus 37 percent of women. 
  • When it comes to using full body scans or pat-downs, women are more supportive than men. 70 percent of women say the scanners are necessary for security, while 54 percent of men agree. Only 23 percent of women think they are too intrusive, compared to 37 percent of men. The difference in opinion on pat-downs is not as great: 59 percent of women say they are necessary for security, compared to 48 percent of men, while 45 percent of men find pat-downs too intrusive versus 37 percent of women. 

To see the entire poll, click here.

Media Contact: David Redlawsk
732-932-9384, ext. 285
E-mail: redlawsk@rutgers.edu