Poll: Majority supports decriminalizing sex work

Poll: Majority supports decriminalizing sex work
© Getty Images

A majority of U.S. voters support decriminalizing sex work, according to an analysis released Thursday by left-leaning think tank Data for Progress.

The report found 52 percent of respondents said they either strongly support or somewhat support decriminalization, compared with 36 percent who opposed it and 13 percent who were unsure.

Two-thirds of voters age 18 to 44 support sex work decriminalization, according to Data for Progress. A majority of voters aged 45-54 and 55-64 also support it, with +11 percent net support and +4 percent net support, respectively.

ADVERTISEMENT

Democrats were more likely to support decriminalization, with 64 percent in favor, compared with 55 percent of independents and 37 percent of Republicans, according to the analysis.

Suburban independents and suburban Democrats were both reportedly more likely than their urban counterparts to support decriminalizing sex work.

Advocates say that decriminalizing sex work would help protect the rights and safety of those involved, while critics fear it could lead to a spike in prostitution.

Data for Progress also surveyed respondents about defunding the practice of vice policing of sex work, which it defined as “enforc[ing] laws against consensual sex work” with strategies such as “undercover stings and raids, in which plainclothes officers pose as potential customers, solicit sex workers and then arrest them.”

It found that a smaller percentage, but still a plurality, supported ending such tactics, and more Republicans supported ending them than supported decriminalization.

Forty-nine percent of respondents supported ending the practice as described, compared with 35 percent opposed and 16 percent unsure. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats supported ending the practice, compared with 40 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of independents.

Data for Progress's online survey was conducted last month among 1,048 people. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.