A majority of Americans, 53 percent, disapprove of two National Security Agency surveillance programs whose existence was reported last week. A Gallup poll found that just 37 percent approved of the NSA's efforts to "compile telephone call logs and Internet communications."
Interestingly, the most intense opposition to the programs comes from the political right. Republicans disapprove of the program by almost a 2 to 1 margin. Independents disapprove, 56 to 34 percent. But 49 percent of Democrats approve of the program, compared with 40 percent who disapprove.
Gallup says the partisan breakdown on the issue has changed over time. When the polling organization asked a similar question in 2006, the NSA's program had more support from Republicans than Democrats. Gallup believes the shift "reflects the party of the president under whose watch the programs were carried out at those two points in time." Of course, the programs in question were begun during the Bush administration.
Americans were evenly split, 44 percent to 42 percent, on whether it was right for Edward Snowden to leak classified documents to the press.
A recent CBS poll found similar results, with 58 percent of respondents disapproving of the government collection of information about "ordinary Americans." That poll found the same partisan split, with Democrats more likely to approve.
In contrast, a Pew/Washington Post survey found that a majority of voters approved of surveillance when told that the programs were supervised by the courts and intended to "investigate terrorism."