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War on Terror Update

Belief U.S. Is Winning War on Terror Falls to 10-Year Low

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Belief that the United States is winning the War on Terror has plummeted to its lowest level in over 10 years of regular tracking.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 27% of Likely U.S. Voters now believe the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror. That’s down eight points from 35% in April  and 47% a year ago. This figure hit a high of 62% in February 2009 just after President Obama’s inauguration, then steadily deteriorated until the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 when it rebounded into the 50s.

Thirty-six percent (36%) think the terrorists are winning that war, the highest level of doubt since the late Bush years in 2007. Twenty-nine percent (29%) say neither side is winning. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

In April, 39% said the United States is safer than before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, but 41% disagreed. It was the highest level of doubt in three years since just before the killing of bin Laden.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters now consider terrorist attacks a bigger threat to the United States than economic or military attacks. That’s up from 30% in October of last year despite the Boston marathon bombing just a few months earlier. Fifty-one percent (51%) still view economic attacks as the bigger threat, but that’s down from 60% last fall. Just three percent (3%) regard military attacks from other nations as the bigger threat to this country.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) believe there is a global conflict between the Muslim world and Western civilization. Seventeen percent (17%) disagree, but 24% are not sure. These findings are consistent with earlier surveying.

But just 44% now think the United States is too involved in the Middle East, down from 54% last October. Twenty-one percent (21%) say we are not involved enough in that region, an 11-point jump from 10% in the last survey. Twenty-four percent (24%) rate the U.S. level of involvement in the Middle East as about right. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

Still, just 13% think the United States should be the world’s policeman. Seventy-three percent (73%) oppose America in that role. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. These attitudes have changed little in surveys for the last four years.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 27-28, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Voters have long expressed little enthusiasm for getting more involved in Middle East politics, but they are slightly less likely to think this involvement hurts both the region and the United States

Men have more confidence in how America is doing in the War on Terror than women do. Voters 40 and over are more convinced that the terrorists are winning.

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to think the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror. Most GOP voters (55%) now believe the terrorists are winning. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 25% think the U.S. and its allies are winning, while 36% feel the terrorists have the upper hand.

Most Democrats and unaffiliated voters still see economic attacks as the bigger threat to the United States. Republicans now rate terrorist attacks slightly ahead of economic ones as the bigger danger.

Republicans also feel much more strongly than the others that there is a global conflict between the Muslim world and Western civilization.  Twenty-five percent (25%) of GOP voters think America should be the world’s policeman, a view shared by only 11% of Democrats and six percent (6%) of unaffiliateds.

However, 60% of all voters think America’s political leaders send U.S. soldiers into harm’s way too often.

Voters who think America should be the world’s policeman are the most likely to think the terrorists are winning the War on Terror.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of voters nationwide think the president is doing a good or excellent job in the area of national security, but slightly more (41%) still rate his performance as poor. That's generally in line with findings for the past year.

Many hoped that the “Arab Spring” protests that began three years ago would lead to a new era of democracy in a number of Islamic countries, but U.S. voters now see that as increasingly unlikely and think the changes there have been bad for America.

Voters strongly believe that radical Islam remains a threat to the United States, and a sizable number thinks the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have only made the problem worse.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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