If you don’t like the way your government is operating, the American thing to do is vote the bums out of office, right? Um, wrong, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll. A surprising percentage of Americans who are dissatisfied with Washington think perhaps the best response is for their state to secede from the union.
Reuters conducted the poll in the midst of talk in the United Kingdom about Scotland’s secession vote, which ultimately failed. The poll revealed that almost a quarter of people are open to their states leaving the union.
In the poll, conducted between Aug. 23 and Sept. 16, nearly 9,000 Americans across the nation were asked about secession and about 23.9 percent said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away. Another 53.3 percent of the respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.
It is a notion that has come up before in states like Texas and Arizona, though most political experts don’t tend to take it seriously. There was a definite and expected partisan skew in the poll responses, with Republicans being more strongly in favor of secession than Democrats. There were also regional differences, as residents of rural Western states were warmer to the idea than Northeasterners.
It’s not hard to imagine where the secession inclinations were coming, with so many Republicans watching the anti-Obama hate screed that airs regularly on right-wing media outlets like Fox News. Republican respondents were clear that it was their feelings about President Barack Obama that inspired their longing to leave the United States.
“I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference anymore which political party is running things. Nothing gets done,” Roy Gustafson, 61, of Camden, South Carolina, who lives on disability payments, told Reuters. “The state would be better off handling things on its own.”
Mordecai Lee, a professor of governmental affairs at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, admitted to Reuters that anti-Obama sentiment likely had a lot to do with the poll responses.
“It seems to have heated up, especially since the election of President Obama,” he said of the secessionist movements.
Overall, 29.7 percent of Republicans supported the idea of secession, compared to 21 percent of Democrats.
Brittany Royal, a 31-year-old nurse from Wilkesboro, North Carolina, pointed to Obamacare as her driver.
“That has really hurt a lot of people here, myself included. My insurance went from $40 a week for a family of four up to over $600 a month for a family of four,” said Royal, a Republican. “The North Carolina government itself is sustainable. Governor (Pat) McCrory, I think he has a better health care plan than President Obama.”
In New England, just 17.4 percent of respondents were in favor of secession, while in the Southwest—which includes Texas — the number was a much higher, 34.1 percent.
“Texas has everything we need. We have the manufacturing, we have the oil, and we don’t need them,” Mark Denny, a 59-year-old retiree living outside Dallas on disability payments, said to Reuters.