New Poll: Voters Prefer Candidates Who Want to Regulate AI Over Those Who Take Hands-Off Approach

More than 75% voters prefer a candidate who supports regulating AI, while less than 25% prefer one who takes a permissive approach to the issue, as similar shares see the issue growing in political importance for them in the future


Three-fourths of voters would choose a candidate running for office who supports regulating artificial intelligence over one who takes a hands-off approach, a new poll from by the Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute (AIPI) shows. Additionally, the survey demonstrates that a plurality of voters don’t know if they trust President Biden or Donald Trump more on artificial intelligence, and that the American public wants elected officials to work across the aisle to pass bipartisan AI legislation. 

Some key numbers from the poll:

  • 76% of voters—including 71% of Republicans and 84% of voters 65 years old and older—prefer a candidate running in their district who supports regulating AI because the risks it poses are so large, and 24% who prefer a candidate who says the government should take a hands-off policy toward AI because the potential economic benefits are so significant. 
  • 73% of voters say they believe AI will become a more salient political issue for them as it develops, while 27% foresee it becoming a less important issue for them. 
  • Voters want a bipartisan approach to AI public policy interventions. A majority of voters, 55%, including 58% of Democrats and 63% of independents— want Democrats and Republicans to work together to pass bipartisan legislation. Just 12% of voters want Republicans to take the lead and pass legislation without Democrats and 14% want Democrats to do so without Republicans. 
  • Voters do not have a preference about which major party presidential candidate they want to handle AI policy. 36% of voters—including 25% of Democrats, 34% of Republicans, and 49% of indipendents— are not sure whether to trust President Biden or Donald Trump most on artificial intelligence. 32% trust President Biden more, 29% trust Trump more, and 3% trust both equally. Just 6% choose “no AI regulation is passed” as their preferred outcome.   
  • 65% of voters, including 57% of Republicans, think the government should regulate AI, while 35% believe companies should self-regulate. 77% of voters—including 75% of Republicans and 87% of voters 65 years old and older—say the government should do more to regulate AI, while just 23% think the government should do less to regulate it.  

In addition, voters were asked the following, without being told who said each quote: “Below are some quotes policymakers have made about artificial intelligence policy. For each, say whether the quotes make you more or less likely to support the candidate.” Quotes that focused on responsible regulation to mitigate AI risks resonated the most with voters. Senator Ted Cruz’s remarks, which were dismissive of concerns about AI, tested most poorly, while Republican and Democratic politicians talking about responsible regulation received high levels of support from voters. 

“This new poll makes it abundantly clear that voters want elected officials to rein in AI, rather than let tech executives take the wheel,” said Daniel Colson, Executive Director of the Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute. “It’s rare to see so many voters, including a majority of Republicans, support government regulation on an issue; these numbers should serve as a wake-up call for elected officials. Spanning ages, genders, and political ideologies, Americans would like to see politicians work across the aisle to take an active role in managing AI. And right now, they’re not sure who to trust between the two likely major party presidential nominees, showcasing the lack of voter polarization on AI and the ripe opportunities for collaborative public policy interventions.”

About the Poll 

The poll was taken on Jan. 15, and contained a survey of 1,021 voters nationally. The survey was conducted in English. Its margin of error is ±5.1 percentage points.

See full toplines here and crosstabs here.


About The Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute

The Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute is an AI policy and research think tank founded by Daniel Colson to advocate for ethical oversight of AI for mitigating potential catastrophic risks posed by AI. AIPI’s core mission is to demonstrate that the general public has valid concerns about the future of AI and is looking for regulation and guidance from their elected representatives. If politicians want to represent the American people effectively, they must act aggressively to regulate AI’s next phases of development. AIPI seeks to work with the media and policymakers to inform them of the risks of artificial intelligence and develop policies that mitigate risks from emerging technology while still benefiting from artificial intelligence.

While much of the public discussion has been oriented around AI’s potential to take away jobs, AIPI will be focused on centering the importance of policies designed to prevent catastrophic outcomes and mitigate the risk of extinction. Currently, most of the AI space comprises those with a vested interest in advancing AI or are academics. The AI space lacks an organization to both gauge and shape public opinion on the issues—as well as to recommend legislation on the matter— and AIPI will fill that role. 
Ultimately, policymakers are political actors, so the country needs an institution that can speak the language of public opinion sentiment. AIPI’s mission is about being able to channel how Americans feel about artificial intelligence and pressure lawmakers to take action.

AIPI will build relationships with lawmakers by using polling to establish AIPI as a subject matter expert on AI safety and policy issues. Politicians are incentivized to support AI slowdown policies due to the strong majority of voters supporting slowdown and regulation. But AI is currently less salient as a political issue than other topics, as so far, there have only been moderate impacts from emerging AI tech. 

AI technological advancement is and will continue to be an evolving situation, and politicians, the media, and everyday Americans need real-time information to make sense of it all. AIPI’s polling will show where people stand on new developments and provide crucial policy recommendations for policymakers.  

Learn more at or follow Daniel on Twitter at @DanielColson6 and Threads at Daniel.J.Colson.