A majority of Americans believe the U.S. government is engaged in mass surveillance of the general public and is influenced by the "deep state," a "group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy," a new Monmouth University poll published Monday reports.
Asked whether the "U.S. government currently monitors or spies on the activities of American citizens," 82 percent of respondents said yes, with 53 percent affirming that such surveillance is "widespread" and 29 percent believing it happens less often. When such surveillance does occur, just 18 percent believe it is "usually justified," while 8 in 10 said it is only sometimes or rarely legitimate.
On the subject of the deep state, three-quarters of survey participants said it "definitely" or "probably" exists. Fully 63 percent were not familiar with the term before it was explained by pollsters, but "there's an ominous feeling by Democrats and Republicans alike that a 'Deep State' of unelected operatives are pulling the levers of power," said Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray.
The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percent. Read The Week's Marc Ambinder on the deep state here.