Vast Majorities on Both Sides of the Border Place Responsibility for Mexico’s Drug War on America’s Drug Consumption

May 19, 2010

NEW YORK, May 19 /PRNewswire/ — Americans and Mexicans have strikingly similar attitudes about the drug war in Mexico, according to a study conducted by Harris Interactive and its global network partner, Indemerc, in early May 2010. Findings from the study will be presented on Wednesday, May 19th at ITESO in Guadalajara, Mexico on the occasion of its International Seminar “Political Communications, Media and Good Governance: A New Era.”

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Thirty-nine percent of both American and Mexican adults believe Mexico is a failed state, which is a striking characterization of the Mexican government; notably, its policies and the potential solutions it offers to the Mexican drug war.

Both American and Mexican adults agree that the Mexican drug cartels and drug lords bear responsibility for the current drug war. Ninety percent of Americans say the drug lords are very or somewhat responsible for the current drug war and 87% of Mexicans say the same. However, American drug consumption is cited widely as a cause, as well: 88% of Americans and 75% of Mexicans say it is very or somewhat responsible for the drug war.

Mexicans also place a significant amount of blame for the Mexican drug war on American gun dealers. Eighty-one percent of Mexican adults say American gun dealers are very or somewhat responsible for the problem, compared to 54% of Americans who say the same. Mexican adults also blame corrupt U.S. authorities for the problem more than Americans do with 85% of Mexicans saying the corrupt U.S. authorities are to blame, compared to 60% of Americans. However, majorities of both Americans and Mexicans feel that corrupt Mexican authorities are responsible for the drug war – 84% percent of Americans and 88% of Mexicans say this.

“The enormous coincidences in opinion between Mexicans and Americans are surprising with respect to the war on drugs,” commented Dr. Carlos Moreno Jaimes, Chief of the Social, Political, and Judicial Studies Department for ITESO. Dr. Moreno continued, “Citizens from both countries think that drug lords are the main cause of the war and also accept that both societies have contributed to the problem: Americans for their high consumption of narcotics and Mexicans for the corruption of authorities. The most important implication of the poll is that the solution to the problem should come from a joint effort of the two countries, but not a military intervention. It is also clear that the Mexican government’s strategy is not perceived as an effective one.”

Other Survey Findings:

Americans have a high awareness of the war on drugs and recent events in Mexico.

Seventy-eight percent of U.S. adults say they know a lot or some about the war on drugs in Mexico. This level of awareness is strong across all regions of the United States, including the states that border Mexico.

Few Americans feel that they or their family will be personally harmed by Mexico’s drug war. In contrast, Mexicans feel far more vulnerable.

  • Forty-one percent of Mexicans say they believe it is very or somewhat likely they or their immediate family will be harmed due to the war on drugs in Mexico, compared to 16% of Americans who say the same.
  • However, among those who live in U.S. Border States, the risk to self and family is perceived as significantly higher. Nationally, 50% of Americans believe they and their family are at no risk of being harmed due to the Mexican drug war; in American states that border Mexico that number drops to 39% who feel they are not at all likely to be harmed by the Mexican drug war.

Justin Greeves, Senior Vice President of Harris Interactive’s Public Affairs & Policy Group and the lead U.S. researcher noted, “Despite high U.S. awareness of the drug war, the lack of personal relevance for Americans may be a substantial barrier to policy changes. It’s likely that changes will continue to unfold more quickly in the U.S. border states given their proximity and stronger attitudes toward the drug war.”

The majority (on both sides of the border) oppose United States’ military intervention.

Majorities of Mexicans and Americans disagree with the idea of sending the U.S. Army to Mexico to collaborate with the Mexican army to control the drug war, with 57% of Americans opposing and 64% of Mexicans opposing. In comparison, the provision of U.S. government money is seen as a much more palatable solution to help end the Mexican drug war. Forty-two percent of both Americans and Mexicans support sending U.S. government funds to aid Mexican law enforcement in training and combating the Mexican drug lords and narcos (the drug gangs). The majority of respondents oppose this kind of intervention, but the issue is polarizing for Americans along political lines. Democrats support this kind of financial help (54% support), Republicans oppose (63% oppose) and Independent’s oppose (61% oppose).

Who is winning and what does the future hold?

Vast majorities of Mexicans and Americans agree that the drug dealers are winning the war on drugs in Mexico. Seventy-five percent of Mexican respondents say the narcos are winning and 80% of American respondents say the drug dealers are winning. This perceived failure in battling the war on drugs may feed the attitude that Mexico’s government is failing.

Mexicans see no end in sight to this war. One-in-five (20%) think it is likely that President Calderon will have ended the drug war by the end of his tenure in December of 2012, while nearly one-half (48%) say it is not at all likely and an additional one-third (33%) of Mexicans say it is somewhat unlikely. These findings coincide with President Felipe Calderon’s state visit to the U.S. this week.

Vicente Licona Cortes, Managing Director, Indemerc, and the lead researcher in Mexico commented, “It’s rare to see such strength of opinion on both who is winning the war and who shares responsibility for it. Overall, these results demonstrate that, from a Mexican point of view, the entire political and law enforcement structure needs to adopt new strategies to win this war.”

                                   TABLE 1
                        AWARE OF THE MEXICAN DRUG WAR
    "How much have you heard, read or seen about the recent war on drugs
                                 in Mexico?"
    BASE: U.S. ADULTS 18+
     78%              AWARE (NET)
    ---               -----------
     40%                A lot
    ---                 -----
     38%                Some
    ---                 ----
     22%              NOT AWARE (NET)
    ---               ---------------
     10%                Hardly anything
    ---                 ---------------
     12%                Haven't heard about it/unaware
    ---                 ------------------------------
    *                 Don't know
    ---               ----------

    BASE: U.S. ADULTS 18+
    Northeast  Midwest   South    West    Border States
    ---------  -------   -----    ----    -------------
        76%          81%      77%     79%           79% AWARE (NET)
       ---          ---      ---     ---           ---  -----------
        34%          41%      35%     53%           51%   A lot
       ---          ---      ---     ---           ---    -----
        42%          40%      41%     26%           28%   Some
       ---          ---      ---     ---           ---    ----
        24%          19%      23%     21%           21% NOT AWARE (NET)
       ---          ---      ---     ---           ---  ---------------
        11%           8%       6%     16%           14%   Hardly anything
       ---          ---      ---     ---           ---    ---------------
                                                          Haven't heard about
        13%          11%      17%      5%            7%    it/unaware
       ---          ---      ---     ---           ---     ----------
        *          *        *         --        *       Don't know
       ---        ---      ---       ---       ---      ----------
    Note: percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

                                   TABLE 2
                             WINNING THE DRUG WAR
    "Based on what you have heard, read or seen about the war on drugs in
      Mexico, who do you think is winning the war on drugs: The Mexican
                       government or the drug dealers?"
    USA            MEXICO
     80%                     75% Drug dealers/"Narcos"
     6%                      23% Mexican government
     14%                      1% Don't know

                                  TABLE 3
    "Thinking about the possible causes for the war on drugs in Mexico,
     for each of the following statements, please tell me if you think
    that the possible cause is Very responsible, Somewhat responsible,
              Not very responsible or Not at all responsible."
          Percentage of those who say "Very/Somewhat Responsible"
    USA            MEXICO
     90%                     87% Mexican drug cartels or drug lords
     88%                     75% American drug consumption
     84%                     88% Corruption of Mexican authorities
     77%                     63% Mexican poverty
     67%                     81% Mexican drug consumers
     60%                     85% Corruption of American authorities
     55%                     80% Mexican President Calderon
     54%                     81% American gun dealers
              N/A            76% Mexican State Governors

                                   TABLE 4
     "Would you support dispatching the U.S. military to Mexico to help
     the Mexican government's efforts in the drug war? /Would you agree
     or disagree if the U.S. army were to come to Mexico to collaborate
    with the Mexican army to aid the Mexican government's efforts in the
                                  drug war?"
    USA            MEXICO
     39%                     36% Yes/Agree
     57%                     64% No/Disagree
     4%                       -  Don't know

                                   TABLE 5
      "Since 2008 the United States government has provided hundreds of
        millions of dollars of equipment and training to Mexican law
         enforcement to combat drug traffickers, are you in favor of
     continuing to use money from the United States Government to train
     Mexican Police or do you oppose using money from the United States
    government for Mexican law enforcement to combat drug traffickers?/
    During the last two years, the U.S. government has given the Mexican
    government hundreds of millions of dollars in equipment and training
    so that the Mexican army may combat the narcos. How strongly do you
         agree or disagree with the U.S. giving money to the Mexican
      government to combat the narcos? Do you Strongly agree, Somewhat
              agree, Somewhat disagree, or Strongly disagree?"
        USA        MEXICO
         42%             42% FAVOR/AGREE (NET)
         17%             21% Strongly favor/agree
         25%             21% Somewhat favor/agree
         54%             55% OPPOSE/DISAGREE (NET)
         19%             19% Somewhat oppose/disagree
         36%             36% Strongly oppose/disagree
          4%              3% Don't know

       REP.        DEM.      IND.
         33%           54%       38% FAVOR/AGREE (NET)
         14%           20%       17% Strongly favor/agree
         20%           34%       21% Somewhat favor/agree
         63%           41%       61% OPPOSE/DISAGREE (NET)
         21%           19%       18% Somewhat oppose/disagree
         43%           23%       43% Strongly oppose/disagree
         4%             5%        1% Don't know

                                   TABLE 6
                         PERSONAL HARM FROM DRUG WAR
         "On a scale of one to five, with one being not at all likely
       and five being very likely....How likely do you think it is that
          you personally or someone from your immediate family may be
             harmed in any way due to the war on drugs in Mexico?"
    USA         MEXICO
    ---         ------
     16%                41% TOP 2 BOX
    ---                 --  ---------
     9%                  5% 5-Very likely
    ---                 --  -------------
     6%                 36% 4
    ---                 --  ---
     16%               N/A  3
    ---                 --  ---
     66%                59% BOTTOM 2 BOX
    ---                 --  ------------
     16%                26% 2
    ---                 --  ---
     50%                33% 1-Not at all likely
    ---                 --  -------------------
     2%                  -  Don't know
    ---                 --  ----------

    Northeast  Midwest   South    West    Border States
    ---------  -------   -----    ----    -------------
        14%          13%      18%     16%             17% TOP 2 BOX
       ---          ---      ---     ---             ---  ---------
         7%           6%      13%      9%             10% 5-Very likely
       ---          ---      ---     ---             ---  -------------
         6%           7%       5%      7%              7% 4
       ---          ---      ---     ---             ---  ---
        14%          14%      16%     20%             20% 3
       ---          ---      ---     ---             ---  ---
        71%          71%      64%     61%             60% BOTTOM 2 BOX
       ---          ---      ---     ---             ---  ------------
        15%          13%      16%     21%             21% 2
       ---          ---      ---     ---             ---  ---
                                                           1-Not at all
        56%          58%      48%     40%             39%  likely
       ---          ---      ---     ---             ---  -------------
         1%           2%       3%      2%              2% Don't know
       ---          ---      ---     ---             ---  ----------
                                   TABLE 7
                           MEXICO AS A FAILED STATE
    "Recently, some people have characterized Mexico as a "Failed State."
           Do you agree or disagree that Mexico is a "failed state?"
    BASE: U.S. ADULTS 18+
    USA          MEXICO
     39%                  39% AGREE (NET)
     19%                  14%   Strongly agree
     20%                  25%   Somewhat agree
     50%                  61% DISAGREE (NET)
     34%                  23%   Somewhat disagree
     16%                  38%   Strongly disagree
     11%                   -  Don't know

                                   TABLE 8
                           END OF MEXICAN DRUG WAR
    "Thinking about the future, do you think that President Calderon will
    have ended the drug war by the end of his tenure in December of 2012
       or not? Do you think it is Not at all likely, Somewhat unlikely,
                       Somewhat likely or Very likely?"
     48%                     Not at all likely
     33%                     Somewhat unlikely
     19%                     Somewhat likely
     1%                      Very likely

United States Methodology

This survey was conducted by telephone within the United States by Harris Interactive between May 5 and May 9, 2010 among 1,009 adults ages 18 and older. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, number of phone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

Mexico Methodology

This survey was conducted by telephone in the 8 largest metropolitan areas in Mexico between May 7 and 9, 2010 among 549 adults 18+. The sample frame for this study is based exclusively on listed numbers using the Random Digital Dialing methodology and asking for the youngest male or female member in the household depending on the required quotas. The data has been weighted by gender, age groups, and socioeconomic levels for the 8 metropolitan areas based on official Census data and AMAI (Mexican Market and Opinion Research Agency Association) data for socioeconomic levels. IMPORTANT NOTE: The results of this poll are only representative of the population in these 8 Mexican metropolitan areas with telephone access in their homes and the results should be interpreted accordingly.

Percentages may not always add up to 100% because of computer rounding or the acceptance of multiple answers from respondents answering that question.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

About Indemerc

Indemerc is a leading Market and Opinion Research firm based in Mexico City.

Based on more than 35 years worth of experience, Indemerc provides research solutions to Mexican and International clients with innovative technologies, proven expertise and the highest quality standards. Indemerc is a member of ESOMAR and has been Harris Interactive’s Global Network Partner in Mexico since 1995. Indemerc’s Public Opinion studies are frequently quoted by foreign and national journalists and its CEO, Mr. Vicente Licona, is a frequent guest on many Public Opinion and Market Research forums and media outlets.

About the Harris Interactive Global Partner Network

Indemerc is a member of Harris Interactive’s Global Partner Network. The Global Partner Network is comprised of locally based, independently owned and operated market and opinion research firms in North, Central, and South America; Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. The Global Partner Network supports the Harris Interactive global view of research, recognizing and promoting the cultural and methodological differences that exist across worldwide markets. This enables Harris Interactive and its partners to conduct strategic research in multiple localized languages around the world, offering solutions to corporations, government, education, healthcare and non-profit organizations.


ITESO is the Jesuit University of Guadalajara, in Mexico. Founded in 1957, it belongs to the network of over 200 Jesuit universities around the world. It shares with them a 450-year-old educational tradition, historically located at the focal point of world thought and recognized for preparing leaders in all fields of the arts and sciences.

    Press Contact:
    Harris Interactive, Inc.
    Corporate Communications

SOURCE Harris Interactive

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