Angry with Washington, 1 in 4 Americans Open to Secession

Scott Malone, Reuters, September 19, 2014

The failed Scottish vote to pull out from the United Kingdom stirred secessionist hopes for some in the United States, where almost a quarter of people are open to their states leaving the union, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found.

Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.

The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll.

Anger with President Barack Obama’s handling of issues ranging from healthcare reform to the rise of Islamic State militants drives some of the feeling, with Republican respondents citing dissatisfaction with his administration as coloring their thinking.

But others said long-running Washington gridlock had prompted them to wonder if their states would be better off striking out on their own, a move no U.S. state has tried in the 150 years since the bloody Civil War that led to the end of slavery in the South.

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Republicans were more inclined to support the idea, with 29.7 percent favoring it compared with 21 percent of Democrats.

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By region, the idea was least popular in New England, the cradle of the Revolutionary War, with just 17.4 percent of respondents open to pulling their state out.

It was most popular in the Southwest, where 34.1 percent of respondents back the idea.

That region includes Texas, where an activist group is calling the state’s legislature to put the secession question on a statewide ballot. One Texan respondent said he was confident his state could get by without the rest of the country.

“Texas has everything we need. We have the manufacturing, we have the oil, and we don’t need them,” said Mark Denny, a 59-year-old retiree living outside Dallas on disability payments.

Denny, a Republican, had cheered on the Scottish independence movement.

“I have totally, completely lost faith in the federal government, the people running it, whether Republican, Democrat, independent, whatever,” he said.

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