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Fox News poll: Voters oppose NSA program, most lack trust in government

Most Americans find it unacceptable for the National Security Agency to collect the phone records of millions of U.S. citizens.  In addition, a majority lacks trust in the federal government, and an increasing number of people say it’s too big.

These are just some of the findings of a Fox News poll released Wednesday.

Sixty-two percent of voters say the government secretly collecting the phone records of millions of Americans is an “unacceptable and alarming invasion of privacy rights.”  

That’s nearly twice as many as think it’s an “acceptable government action to help prevent terrorism” (32 percent).

Republicans (by 74-18 percent) and independents (by 67-26 percent) think the NSA surveillance of Americans is unacceptable.  Democrats split: 48 percent say it’s acceptable, while 46 percent say unacceptable.  

Views are similar on the U.S. Department of Justice monitoring certain reporters as part of its leak investigation.  By a 34 percentage-point margin, more voters think the government’s seizure of journalists’ records was mainly done for political reasons (63 percent) as opposed to national security reasons (29 percent).  

The Justice Department secretly obtained phone records and emails from some news organizations that had broken stories based on government leaks.  

In general, when asked how much “trust and confidence” they have in the federal government, 37 percent of voters say they have a great deal (5 percent) or a fair amount (32 percent).  Sixty-three percent say they have not much confidence (41 percent) or none at all (22 percent).

Meanwhile, the portion of voters saying the federal government is too big is growing: 64 percent feel that way, up from 56 percent in 2009.  That’s more than double the number who feel government is the right size (29 percent).  

The NSA and Justice Department programs have more voters thinking the president has broken his promise to lead “the most open and transparent administration ever.”

The poll finds 35 percent think the Obama administration has been less open and transparent than previous administrations.  That’s up 10 points since last year when 25 percent felt that way (June 2012).  The change comes mainly from an increase in the number of Republicans (+16 points) and independents (+14 points) saying the White House is less transparent.  

At the same time the number of voters believing the administration is more open and transparent has dropped to 24 percent down from 32 percent a year ago.  This shift comes more from an across-the-board decline, as fewer independents (-14 points), Democrats (-8 points) and Republicans (-6 points) say this White House is more open than others.

The largest portion of voters -- 39 percent -- says the transparency of this White House is about the same as previous administrations.  And that’s unchanged from 39 percent last June.  

There is good news in the poll on the economy:  18 percent of voters say the economy is in excellent or good shape, which is double the 9 percent who felt that way in January.  

In addition, the number saying the country is in a recession has dropped 14 points: 27 percent today, down from 41 percent a year ago (June 2012).  

Those numbers, however, haven’t boosted President Obama’s job performance rating.  

Obama’s current 44 percent approval rating is the lowest he’s received in more than a year.  Some 45 percent of voters approved last month and 47 percent approved in January.  

Opinions are split over whether Obama is honest and trustworthy as equal numbers -- 48 percent -- say yes and no.  In May, 49 percent of voters said Obama was honest, and 51 percent said so last year (July 2012).  His highest honesty rating was 73 percent in April 2009.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,019 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from June 9 to June 11.  The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.