February Verified Voter Omnibus – Spy Balloon & UFOs
In our February omnibus, we found plenty to learn about voters and their views on “spy” balloons and UFOs. Using our 2024 likely electorate model, we found that voters believe the U.S. government was right to wait before shooting down the Chinese spy balloon, but are closely divided by 50 to 42. A plurality of voters (42%) also believe that unidentified objects in American airspace came from a foreign government. 26% were unsure. 14% of voters credit those same objects to individual hobbyists, while 8% say the U.S. government flew them and 5% say it was extraterrestrial life.
That last part got us curious about voters, so we delved further into their opinions about extraterrestrial life. An interesting age trend emerged, which normally wouldn’t surprise us. Consider the center-left Brookings Institution, which recently published an article on how younger voters skew Democratic. This is just the latest example of what are hardly new findings. Last December, the Financial Times’ Chief Data Reporter also described how millennial voters are not getting more conservative over time as their older counterparts. But when looking at our latest data for both young voters and a prolonged millennial swing, we find similar trends even with the seemingly non-political topics of UFOs and Aliens.
Young people want to believe
Consider the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life, which voters overwhelmingly believed in by a margin of 68 to 20. The most confident were the youngest voters we surveyed, ages 18-29, of whom 49% said it is “very likely” that such life exists. That confidence drops steadily with age, as only 23% of those over 65 said it is very likely. Still, 60% of the oldest voters thought it is very or somewhat likely there is intelligent life outside of Earth. Perhaps with the paranormal as with the political, getting older often means moderating.
But for now millennials and younger voters are more likely to “BELIEVE.” When asked if intelligent life forms from other planets have visited Earth, a similar age trend appears. Voters between the ages 30-39 were the most confident by a 35-point margin, followed by voters ages 18-29. Optimism about aliens is similarly ordered. 51% of young voters (18-29) and 55% of those 30-39 said the existence of intelligent life on other planets would have a positive influence on life for humans.
For many, the U.S. government is the primary suspect
On this question and on whether aliens have ever visited Earth, we also found that minority voters were more likely to endorse the positive answer. 52% of Black voters and 57% of Hispanic voters said intelligent life from other planets has visited Earth; just 36% of white voters agreed. 48% of Black voters said aliens would have a positive influence on life for humans; 33% of white voters agreed. Similar differences along age and race appeared when we asked about various theories of aliens interacting with the U.S. government and other humans.
Curiously, these differences among voters disappeared for exactly one of our theories. When asked if the UFOs seen by American pilots is actually top-secret technology being tested by the American government, voters believed this was the case by a margin of 23 points. For a white/non-white breakdown, the margin was 23 and 25 respectively. For voters under 50 and 50 or older, the margin was 28 and 20 respectively. For all the polarization by age and race in the American electorate, it seems Americans can get together on one idea; our tax dollars are paying for even more advanced planes than the ones we already know about.