Americans don’t want to mix politics and law enforcement

February 2, 2018

Americans don’t think that how someone votes should matter when it comes to getting or keeping a job, and overwhelmingly prioritize the independence of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over political loyalty to an administration, based on findings of an Economist/YouGov poll released on January 31.

The preference for independence in law enforcement is not partisan: Republicans as well as Democrats reject the belief that senior FBI officials need to be supporters of the President.  Indeed, 73% of Democrats, 60% of Independents and 47% of Republicans believe that FBI officials should not have to be “loyal” to a president.

The poll was conducted last weekend, after Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe abruptly resigned just weeks ahead of his expected March retirement from the Bureau.

McCabe had been criticized by President Trump, including on Twitter, for political bias, and claimed he had been asked by the President how he had voted when he met the Trump upon assuming the role of acting FBI Director. McCabe said he did not vote in the 2016 election.

The public sees the FBI as an independent agency, not necessarily one loyal to any incumbent President. Public support for the independence of the agency as a whole was even more clear: Just 13% said the FBI should be loyal to the President, including just 24% of Republicans.

+There is an even more unanimity on the inappropriateness of asking about one’s Presidential vote in a job interview, of using it as a basis for hiring and of firing someone because of it. Belief that it is inappropriate to fire someone for their vote extends to firing a career civil servant. Two-thirds of Republicans agree, the Economist/YouGov pollsters found.
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