Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, is being extradited to the U.S. from the Bahamas to face multiple criminal charges of fraud for how he used customer funds. The latest Economist/YouGov poll finds that as Bankman-Fried returns to the U.S., Democrats and Republicans are united in support of his conviction for his actions while leading FTX. Members of both parties also are more likely to support than oppose more government regulation of cryptocurrency.
More than one-third of Americans (36%) have an unfavorable opinion of Bankman-Fried; just 16% have a favorable opinion and 48% have no opinion of him. More people who currently own cryptocurrency view him unfavorably (38%) than favorably (30%). Opinions of him are much more positive among adults under 45 (25% unfavorable, 30% favorable) than among adults 45 and older (46% unfavorable, 5% favorable).
Most Americans (71%) have heard a lot (30%) or a little (41%) about Bankman-Fried's arrest; he was charged with eight criminal counts, including wire fraud, as well as conspiracies to commit money laundering and commodities and securities fraud. Most Americans think that Bankman-Fried will be convicted for his actions while leading FTX (56%) and even more believe he should be convicted (65%). Democrats and Republicans are similarly likely to say that he should be convicted (70% and 71%, respectively), as are Americans who currently own cryptocurrency (72%).
While many Americans have heard about Bankman-Fried's arrest, the context around his bankrupt cryptocurrency business likely confuses some of them. Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say they understand cryptocurrency not very well or not at all — though only 51% of Americans under 45 say that while 79% of adults 45 or older do.
A majority of Americans (55%) perceive cryptocurrency as a very or somewhat unsafe financial investment, with only 18% seeing it as a safe investment. Even people who own cryptocurrency are as likely to view it as an unsafe investment (47%) as a safe one (46%).
Perhaps because of the perceived risk, nearly half (46%) of U.S. adult citizens — including 55% of Democrats and 50% of Republicans — would like to see the industry more regulated by the U.S. government. A majority of people who understand cryptocurrency "very well" (58%) would like to see more regulations in place, as would 66% of people who have heard a lot about Bankman-Fried's arrest.
— Carl Bialik and Taylor Orth contributed to this article
Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to June 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (34% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.
Image: Getty Images (Alexey Furman)