New Iowa poll: Republicans approve of Ted Cruz’s surveillance-reform vote

Iowa Republicans generally support Ted Cruz‘s vote to rein in government surveillance, according to a Des Moines Register poll released 17 days before the state’s all-important caucuses.

The poll’s major finding is that the conservative Texas senator leads Donald Trump 25-22 in Iowa, but below those topline figures is a section asking voters about Cruz’s political positions shows him overcoming Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)’s surveillance-related attacks.

When told that Cruz “voted to stop the U.S. government from collecting bulk phone data,” 28 percent of Iowa Republicans (500 of whom were surveyed) said that this made Cruz “very attractive” to them, while 32 percent said it made him “mostly attractive.”

Cruz voted in favor of the USA Freedom Act, a law that ended a National Security Agency phone-records collection program and required the agency to instead get a warrant to ask the phone companies for the data.

The combined figure of 60 percent support far outpaces the 27 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers who said that Cruz’s surveillance-reform vote made him either mostly or very unattractive.

Des Moines Register

Rubio, who voted against the bill, has attacked Cruz in speechesinterviews, and during debates for weakening national security by limiting what the government can collect. But as both Cruz and the intelligence community have pointed out, the change actually gives the NSA access to more records, not fewer.

The NSA was having trouble gathering records from cell phones, but the phone companies—which already retain this “metadata,” or information about calls, for billing purposes—do not have that problem.

A Rubio spokesman declined to address the poll finding, saying only, “Marco believes the USA Freedom Act is bad policy because it dangerously weakened programs that our intelligence community used to keep us safe from terrorist attacks.”

The Cruz campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Update 9:25am CT, Jan. 15: Added comment from a Rubio spokesman.

H/T Politico | Photos via Marc Nozell/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed

Eric Geller

Eric Geller

Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.