CAPS/Harris Poll on Technology, Crime and Policing


Monday, August 27, 2018 (All day)

August 27, 2018

The Russia investigation, White House leaks, and government security clearances are addressed in the August 2018 poll by the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard (CAPS) and The Harris Poll.

Political Climate

President Trump’s approval rating remains steady in the face of scandal. For the seventh straight month, the president’s approval rating – currently at 46% -- is in the mid-40s according to the latest public policy poll by the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard (CAPS) and The Harris Poll conducted August 22-23, 2018 among 1,330 registered voters.

Trump continues to be credited with his work on the economy (55% approve), fighting terrorism (55%), and stimulating jobs (55%). But a majority disapprove of his work in foreign affairs (56%), administering the government (58%), and immigration (54%).

Optimism about the direction of the country overall has plateaued (39% say the country is on the “right track”), but economic optimism has risen steadily since April (currently 49% say the economy is on the “right track” up from 44% in April).

On the generic ballot, Democrats retain their lead (currently an 8-point margin over GOP: 45-37). Notable is the decline in “unsure” responses to the generic ballot with now just 13% of voters saying they aren’t sure (down from 18% in February when our tracking began).

Russia Investigation

Voters remain split on whether or not the special counsel has found evidence of collusion – 39% say “found”, 39% say “not found”, and 22% are unsure. A majority of voters continue to believe that the investigation does more to hurt the country (58%) than to help (42%).

Nevertheless, only 28% say Mueller should put an end to the investigation immediately. About a third (35%) say the investigation should continue indefinitely, and the rest (37%) would like to put a time limit on the duration of the investigation. A majority of voters (60%) would like to see President Trump testify in front of Mueller.

White House Leaks & Security Clearances

Unacceptable. This is how 62% of US voters describe the action of secretly recording the President during a closed-door policy deliberation. Fifty-nine percent of voters say releasing a secret recording of the President should be punishable by law.

A plurality of voters say leaks ought to be investigated by the Justice Department (45%). And over a third (35%) say that White House leaks are “a possible security threat and should be illegal.”

Voters generally believe that former national security officials should give up their clearances (60%). Specifically, with respect to John Brennan, 59% say he should have lost his security clearance once departing from his job.

Online Freedom of Speech

Voters are split on whether some online content should be censored (51%) or if it should be freely available (49%).

Voters hold technology and social media companies to high standards when it comes to publishing content. Although 64% say tech companies should be held accountable for content carried on their platforms – for example, through libel laws, only a minority (45%) want tech companies to have the right to take down any material they want.

Voters do, however, support the banning of Alex Jones from some media companies (61%) and further support taking down content related to false conspiracies (49%). In fact, 27% want to see all of his content taken down.

Andrew Brunson

Sixty percent of voters support issuing sanctions on Turkey in retaliation for the unjust detention of Andrew Brunson. A majority (51%) still support continued sanctions if Turkish leaders do not release him. In general, this is consistent with US voters’ thoughts on whether or not the United States should protect its citizens’ religious freedoms overseas, even if it leads to diplomatic disputes: 51% say it should, 22% say no, 27% are unsure.

Crime and Policing

The August 2018 poll includes a deep-dive on crime and policing in America put together with graduate students in the Department of Government at Harvard University.

Perceptions of crime in the United States vs. respondent communities are split: 72% say there is more crime in the US compared to a year ago, but a majority (55%) say there is less crime in their neighborhood than there was last year.

Overall, 44% of respondents say there is somewhere within a mile that they would feel unsafe walking along at night. And 54% support licensing weapons to community watchers.

Voters generally approve of the way police are doing the job in the United States (64%) and in their community (77%). Only 14% of voters say the police make them feel unsafe.

But 21% of voters say they’ve been discriminated against by the police, and 61% believe police sometimes use unnecessary force. Half of voters surveyed (50%) say police are more likely to use force along racial lines.

Overall, 57% are confident the police are held accountable for their actions.

Today, voters worry more about identity theft (49% say they worry about it “occasionally”) and credit card info theft (50%), than they do about being burglarized (33%) or murdered (17%)

For more information on the August poll, go to the CAPS/Harris Poll website for the detailed results, and please visit The Hill ( for first look analysis of all polls.

The CAPS/Harris Poll website will be updated throughout the week with more information about the poll.


The survey was conducted by The Harris Poll online within the United States from August 22-23, 2018 among 1,330 registered voters.

The results reflect a nationally representative sample. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, marital status, household size, income, employment, and education where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

The poll was supervised by Harvard Professor of Government and CAPS Faculty Director Stephen Ansolabehere, Mark Penn, and Dritan Nesho.

Stephen Ansolabehere has 25 years’ experience conducting survey research and experimental research in the field of political science.

Mark Penn is a former presidential pollster and has 40 years of polling experience.

Dritan Nesho is a fellow at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science and has over 11 years of polling and data analytics experience.

See also: Polls