Scotland Gives Americans Secessionist Ideas, Poll Shows

Almost one-quarter of people polled were open to idea of their state leaving the United States.

Reuters
Reuters
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Campaigners wave Scottish Saltires at a 'Yes' campaign rally in Glasgow, Scotland. September 17, 2014.
Campaigners wave Scottish Saltires at a 'Yes' campaign rally in Glasgow, Scotland. September 17, 2014. Credit: Reuters
Reuters
Reuters

The failed bid to create an independent Scotland has 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 in late August and September 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.

"I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference anymore which political party is running things. Nothing gets done," said Roy Gustafson, 61, of Camden, South Carolina, who lives on disability payments. "The state would be better off handling things on its own."

Scottish unionists won by a wider-than-expected margin of 10 percentage points.
The Obama administration's falling public approval, attention to the Scottish vote and the success of activists who accuse the U.S. government of overstepping its authority - such as the self-proclaimed militia members who flocked to Nevada's Bundy ranch earlier this year during a standoff over grazing rights - is driving up interest in secession, experts said.

"It seems to have heated up, especially since the election of President Obama," said Mordecai Lee, a professor of governmental affairs at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, who has studied secessionist movements.

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

Brittany Royal, a 31-year-old nurse from Wilkesboro, North Carolina, said anger over the "Obamacare" healthcare reform law made her wonder if her state would be better off on its own.

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