Days after a federal appeals court decision left in place a California law that protects net neutrality in the state, more than half of registered voters said that they supported such protections, a new Morning Consult/Politico survey found. That support has remained relatively stable for several years, even after the repeal of federal rules.
Voters were provided with the definition of net neutrality and asked whether they support or oppose it
What the numbers say
- Among all voters, 55% said they supported laws that protect net neutrality, which prevents internet service providers from blocking, throttling or prioritizing certain content. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a petition from telecommunications companies and industry groups to rehear a January decision that found that the Federal Communications Commission’s reversal of federal net neutrality rules in 2017 does not stop states from implementing their own laws.
- Independents (60%) and Democrats (57%) are almost equally supportive of net neutrality laws, while about half of Republicans (49%) say the same.
- The level of overall voter support is comparable to a June 2017 Morning Consult/Politico survey before the FCC repealed federal net neutrality laws later that year. In that survey, 60% of respondents said they supported net neutrality, as did 61% of Democrats and 59% of independents. Republican backing for net neutrality has fallen 10 percentage points over that nearly five-year period.
- There is evidence that the issue is starting to fade from the public consciousness, however. In the 2017 survey, 23% said they did not know or had no opinion about net neutrality, while in this year’s survey 29% said the same.
Why it matters
The telecommunications industry has fought hard against net neutrality, including in this California case, which could now go before the Supreme Court.
The FCC adopted federal net neutrality rules in 2015 but repealed them two years later under the Trump administration. In response, California adopted its own state-level law the following year. Other states have followed suit with their own net neutrality legislation, with six others adopting them.
FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel welcomed the federal appeals court’s decision, saying in a tweet that net neutrality must once again be “the law of the land.”
But those efforts have been complicated by a commissioner vacancy at the agency and the confirmation process for nominee Gigi Sohn, who is opposed by Republicans, some moderate Democrats and the telecom industry.
The April 22-25, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,004 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.