Washington, DC, August 29, 2019 — Following the ‘Storm Area 51’ craze that swept across social media platforms over the past few months, Ipsos’s recent poll investigates American beliefs surrounding the mysterious Area 51. The poll finds that 52% of Americans believe that extraterrestrial life exists, with 29% saying they visit our planet. While only 16% of Americans say they are very familiar with Area 51, 26% of those ages 18-34 say they are. Among those who are familiar or have at least heard of Area 51, the most commonly cited things believed to be held there are advanced Air Force weapon systems (48%) and Air Force aircrafts (42%). This is in line with its label as a U.S. Air Force military base, but only 31% of Americans believe that Area 51 is just a regular military base. A quarter of Americans (26%) think that crashed UFO spacecrafts are held there, and 21% think that there is advanced technology from aliens or aliens themselves. Those ages 18-34 are more likely to think that Area 51 hosts secret committee dealings to form a singular world government (21% of those ages 18-34, 13% of those ages 35-54, 3% of those ages 55+).
Half of Americans (49%) agree that the U.S. government should release a full report detailing the work at Area 51, a step several Democratic presidential candidates in the 2020 race have expressed interest in doing. Two in ten Americans think that Area 51’s secrets are a danger to the American public, with the younger generation much more likely to believe this is true (32% of those ages 18-34 vs. 9% of those ages 55+).
The organizer of the Facebook event claims that raiding Area 51 was a joke from the very beginning. He, along with the U.S. Air Force, has since discouraged the more than 2 million supposed attendees from attempting to break into Area 51 by ‘Naruto’ running en masse.
About the Study
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 23-26, 2019. For this survey, a sample of roughly 1,006 adults age 18+ form the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 892 Americans who have at least heard of Area 51. Additionally, the sample includes 240 Americans ages 18-34, 341 Americans ages 35-54, and 311 Americans ages 55+.
The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as rakingratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.
Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,006, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.0 percentage points).
The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points for Americans who have at least heard of Area 51, 7.2 percentage points for Americans ages 18-34, 6.1 percentage points for Americans ages 35-54, and 6.3 percentage points for Americans ages 55+.
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