The Campaign Spot

Surprise: Pat-Downs Poll Well Among Those Who Don’t Fly

The top headline in the print version of today’s Washington Post reads, “Most support full body scanners; half in poll call frisking intrusive.”

But when they say “half,” they don’t mean among those who actually fly commercial air travel and experience the pat-downs.

FLIERS — The results, as noted, differ among travel groups. People who fly at least annually are 12 points more apt to oppose the new screening machines and a slight eight points more apt to criticize the new pat-downs as an unjustified intrusion on personal privacy. Among Americans who say they fly at least once or twice a year — just fewer than half the public — 58 percent support the screening machines, with 37 percent opposed; that compares to 70-27 percent among people who fly infrequently or not at all. Similarly, support for the new pat-downs, 52 percent among infrequent fliers, slips to 44 percent among those who fly at least annually.

Those who fly more than once a year split 44 percent in favor, 54 percent oppose on the pat-downs. That’s not really “half.” The pollster also notes:

Though the sample is small, the results indicate that opposition rises further among more-frequent fliers, those who fly at least every few months.

Are we surprised that those who will rarely or never experience the pat-downs are less opposed to them? Like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, for these folks, a TSA agent reaching where he shouldn’t is an entirely theoretical manner.

UPDATE: This point, reinforced: “Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details. Aviation security officials would not name those who can skip the controversial screening, but other officials said those VIPs range from top officials like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and FBI Director Robert Mueller to congressional leaders like incoming House Speaker John Boehner, who avoided security before a recent flight from Washington’s Reagan National Airport.”


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