New Poll Shows Growing Desires for Whistleblower Protections

Here’s some information that deserves a little review, despite my skepticism of pollsters.

Yes, there are a lot of marketing firms seeking to gain attention through polling of dubious value in any election year. The flip side of this, is that there are also a lot of legitimate pollsters conducting polling regularly in an election year, so it is possible to get some extra questions asked relatively easily if an organization takes advantage of that. The Whistleblower News Network apparently asked Marist Poll (rated A+ by to conduct such research on whistleblower popularity. We have some valuable results.

First a caveat. When a candidate wants to know if they are going to win, a 2 or 3 point difference in polling accuracy can be fatal and so pollsters come in for fire when they are off by statistically smaller amounts. But in determining the popularity of an issue, we can allow for small errors and still understand the general point as long as the numbers are clear.

In the case of whistleblower popularity, the numbers tell a resoundingly clear story. For example, among likely voters, 86% agreed with the idea of “stronger legal protections” for whistleblowers who are federal employees, while only 9% disagreed and 5% were unsure.

Even if the poll is off by a few points any proposition, which receives more than 80% support of likely voters with fewer than 10% disagreement is, pretty hard to find.

The support for Whistleblowers in federal government cut across party lines, Democrats, Independents and Republicans all seem to support the proposition. Republicans at 78%.  This after a year of attacks on some whistleblowers and almost constant whining from the defense bar when their clients are the subject of cases brought by whistleblowers.

Perhaps of most value to those of us who want to convince officials to support pro-whistleblower legislation is the idea that candidates who support whistleblowers may also help themselves. The poll that says 44% of voters would be more likely to support a candidate who strengthens such laws, while only 3% would be less likely. Not many issues give a candidate a 41% edge.

I looked hard at the internals of the poll and it was difficult to find much difference between age, racial makeup, or income in the responses. Support for whistleblowers is astonishingly widespread. The poll was conducted in September of this year (2020) and 1,152 adults were surveyed.

The poll and any additional polls showing similar, results, may prove very useful to the whistleblower bar in the next legislative session. How many issues are available which cut across all political lines with such reliable popularity?

Our side needs to take advantage of the simple fact that protecting the rights of whistleblowers is not only the right thing to do, most people understand it is the right thing to do.

Thanks to the Whistleblower News Network for commissioning this poll. Even those of us who work on behalf of whistleblowers have to be surprised at just how popular protecting their rights is with the public.