10/26/2013 09:33 am ET Updated Oct 26, 2013

Americans Think Tracking Merkel's Phone Is Unacceptable, But Tracking Other Leaders Might Be OK


Americans generally frown on the idea of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. But many think the idea of spying on other world leaders would be acceptable.

According to the new poll, 49 percent of Americans think it's unacceptable for the U.S. to track Merkel's phone calls, while only 25 percent said it's acceptable. The Guardian reported this week that the U.S. may have tracked calls to and from Merkel's cell phone in the past -- although White House spokesman Jay Carney denied that the country is doing so currently or will in the future.

Aversion to the idea of tracking Merkel appeared to be based mostly on her standing as the leader of a close U.S. ally, while respondents expressed more openness to tracking some other world leaders.

Americans were largely on board with the idea of tracking Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the poll found. Forty-nine percent said that would be acceptable, while 32 percent said it would be unacceptable. And a 43 percent to 34 percent plurality said it would be acceptable to spy on Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In contrast, respondents said that it would be unacceptable to track another close U.S. ally, British Prime Minister David Cameron, by a 55 percent to 23 percent margin.

Respondents were more divided over the idea of tracking Russian President Vladimir Putin's calls -- 42 percent said it would be acceptable, while 38 percent said it would be unacceptable. Respondents also said it would be unacceptable to track Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's phone by a 40 percent to 36 margin.

While pluralities of Republicans, Democrats and independents generally agreed on whether or not it was acceptable to track the phone calls of each leader, there were exceptions. Democrats and independents generally agreed that it would not be acceptable to track Mexican President Nieto's phone calls, but by a 47 percent to 29 percent margin more Republicans said it would be acceptable. And while pluralities of both Republicans and Democrats said it would be acceptable to track Putin's phone calls, a plurality of independents said it would be unacceptable.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Oct. 23-24 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.


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