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Most Now Think Terror Makes America A More Dangerous Place

Monday, July 06, 2015

For the first time in over four years, over half of U.S. voters believe that the United States is a more dangerous place than it was before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 32% of Likely U.S. Voters think America is safer today than it was before 9/11. That level of confidence has been steadily decreasing since last fall and is now at its lowest level since May 2011.

Fifty-two percent (52%) disagree and believe the United States is a more dangerous place now. That’s up from 48% in March and only the second time this finding has passed the 50% mark in regular surveying since November 2006. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure how safe the country is these days. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Three years ago at this time, 46% said America was safer now than it had been before 9/11, and only 30% disagreed.

Voters now are almost evenly divided over whether economic threats or terrorist attacks are a bigger threat to the country. In July 2014, 51% said economic attacks, 39% terrorist attacks. Now, 46% see economic attacks as the bigger threat, but nearly as many (43%) rate terrorist attacks as the bigger danger. Basically unchanged in surveying since January 2013 are the three percent (3%) who are most concerned about military attacks from other nations.

Confidence that the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror remains low. Just 27% believe that’s true, unchanged from last month and consistent with surveying for the past year.  Forty-one percent (41%) think the terrorists are winning, down only slightly from a month ago but still a far higher level of pessimism than voters expressed in surveys for years prior to that. Five years after the 9/11 attacks, in late 2006, 40% thought the United States and its allies were winning, while 32% said the terrorists had the upper hand. Twenty-five percent (25%) now think neither side is winning.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 2 and 5, 2015 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.

Following the abortive terrorist attack in Texas in early May, most Americans agree that Islamic terrorism is now a bigger threat inside the United States

Half (49%) of voters think the government doesn't focus enough on the threat of domestic Islamic terrorism. Fifteen percent (15%) think it focuses too much on this threat, while 28% think the focus is about right.

Voter attitudes about cyberwarfare have changed little, if at all. Sixty-four percent (64%) think a cyberattack by another country poses a greater economic threat to the United States than a traditional military attack. Only 16% disagree, while 20% are undecided.

Sixty-four percent (64%) also feel that a major cyberattack on the United States by another country should be viewed as an act of war. Seventeen percent (17%) don’t share that view. Twenty percent (20%) are undecided.

The older the voter, the more likely he or she is to believe that the country is not safer now than it was before 9/11. But voters of all ages are in general agreement that terrorist attacks are nearly as big a threat as economic ones.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Republicans and a plurality (47%) of voters not affiliated with either major party think the terrorists are winning the War on Terror. Just 19% of Democrats agree. Forty-one percent (41%) of voters in President Obama’s party think the United States and its allies are winning.

Sixty percent (60%) of those who say the United States and its allies are winning believe America is a safer place today. Among voters who think the terrorists are winning, 75% say America is not safer now than it was before 9/11.

Higher-income voters are more concerned about economic threats, including cyberwarfare, than terrorist attacks.

Among all voters, there’s a belief that the divide between America and the Islamic world is growing larger. Eighty-six percent (86%) believe that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to the United States

Fifty-eight percent (58%) agree with the recent jury decision to give Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the death penalty

While voters agree with the president that America is not at war with Islam, they are far less convinced that the economic measures promoted the White House summit on violent extremism earlier this year will help protect this country.

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

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