Fox News Poll: Social media not part of background checks? 'That's crazy!'

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Voters are puzzled over news the Obama administration, fearing a civil liberties backlash, doesn’t screen posts on social media when doing immigration background checks.

Sixty-three percent say “that’s just crazy,” according to a Fox News poll released Friday.  That’s about twice as many who think it “makes sense” (32 percent).

Democrats (38 percent) are more likely than Republicans (28 percent) and independents (28 percent) to say it makes sense.


Voters under age 35 are among those most likely to agree the government shouldn’t look at postings on Facebook and Twitter when doing immigration screening.  Forty-five percent feel that way, compared to just 28 percent among those ages 55 and over.

In addition, 75 percent of voters feel the United States has failed to pursue potential terrorists aggressively enough here at home -- up from 60 percent in 2007 (the last time the question was asked on a Fox News poll).

Over half disapprove of the job President Obama is doing handling ISIS (33 percent approve vs. 58 percent disapprove).  Overall, 43 percent of voters approve of the job Obama’s doing as president, while 51 percent disapprove.

Just 39 percent think Obama is prepared to do “whatever it takes” to defeat Islamic extremists.  A 58-percent majority says he isn’t, up from 53 percent who felt that way in May.

The poll also asked voters about three different approaches -- suggested by politicians and commentators since the Paris and San Bernardino attacks -- to prevent future deaths from terrorism.

The method seen as least effective is increasing the government’s phone and Internet surveillance of all Americans (19 percent “extremely” or “very” effective).

Somewhat more (36 percent) think it would be effective to use profiling techniques to increase government surveillance only on certain individuals. And the same number says encouraging more people to carry weapons to defend against attackers would be effective (36 percent).

On a related question about mass shootings in general, 59 percent think there would be fewer victims of mass shootings if more law-abiding people carried guns, while 29 percent say the answer is to ban guns.

Following Paris and San Bernardino, voters say terrorism is the most important issue facing the country.  Twenty-seven percent feel that way.  That’s up from 24 percent who said terrorism last month (soon after the Paris attack), and up significantly from 11 percent this summer.

The economy comes in second at 21 percent, down from 30 percent in August.  Far fewer say the top issue is health care (8 percent), climate change (6 percent), and immigration (6 percent).

Despite the failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to “connect the dots” in the San Bernardino shooting massacre, by a 67-32 percent margin, most feel confident in the intelligence community’s ability to uncover terrorist threats in the future.  That’s mostly unchanged from earlier this year.

The recent attack on the homeland has not increased sentiment to put additional boots on the ground in the Middle East.  By a 52-38 percent margin, voters oppose sending a “significant” number of U.S. ground troops to Iraq and Syria to fight the extremists.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,013 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from December 16-17, 2015. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.