If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


Terrorists, Not U.S., Winning War on Terror

Monday, November 10, 2014

The number of voters who think the United States is winning the War on Terror continues to fall to new lows, and more than ever they see a terrorist attack as the biggest threat to the nation.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 25% of Likely U.S. Voters think the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror, a new all-time low. In July, belief that the United States is winning the War on Terror plummeted eight points to 27%, its lowest level in over 10 years of regular tracking.
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.  A third (33%) say neither side is winning. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters now consider terrorist attacks a bigger threat to the United States than economic or military attacks. That’s up 10 points from July and the highest level of concern for terrorist attacks since polling on the question first started in early 2013. Just 38% think economic threats are a bigger threat to America, down 13 points from 51% in January and the lowest yet. A year ago, 60% thought economic threats were the biggest threat to the United States Just three percent (3%) regard military attacks from other nations as the bigger threat to this country.

Following two deadly incidents in Canada that appear terrorist related, U.S. voters feel more strongly that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to this country but also acknowledge overwhelmingly that not all so-called “lone wolf” attacks can be prevented.
 Sixty-five percent (65%) believe there is a global conflict between the Muslim world and Western civilization. Twenty percent (20%) disagree, but 15% are not sure.

Just 43% now think the United States is too involved in the Middle East, tying the lowest finding since polling on the question began in January 2013. Twenty-five percent (25%) now say we are not involved enough in that region, the highest to date and up 15 points from the low of 10% a year ago. Twenty-nine percent (29%) think the U.S. level of involvement in the Middle East is about right.

Still, just 16% think the United States should be the world’s policeman, though that’s the highest number yet. Sixty-nine percent (69%) oppose America in that role. This is the first time in five years that number has dipped below 70%.  Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 28-29, 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.

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.
 A sizable number of voters (44%) continues to believe the Central Intelligence Agency tortured likely terrorists, but slightly more think the information obtained that way helped in the War on Terror. 

Voters over 40 are more confident in the United States’ role in the War on Terror than younger voters are. However, older voters are also more likely than younger ones to think the terrorists are winning, with a majority of younger voters saying neither side is winning.

Just 10% of Republicans think the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror, compared to 40% of Democrats. Among voters not affiliated with either major political party, 22% think the United States is winning, 35% think the terrorists are winning, and 36% think neither is winning.

Republicans are more likely than Democrats and unaffiliated voters to consider a terrorist attack the biggest threat to the United States. Democrats and unaffiliateds are slightly more divided between terrorist attacks and economic threats.

Men are stronger supporters of the United States acting as the world’s policeman than women are.

Voters who don’t think the United States is involved enough in the Middle East are most likely to think there’s a global conflict between the Muslim world and Western civilization, but majorities across the board tend to agree.

Most voters think the U.S. military is stretched too thin, but think it’s likely the United States will be forced to send combat troops back into Iraq to fight the radical Islamic group ISIS. 

Currently, 42% believe ISIS is winning the war in Iraq. Just 15% think the United States is winning.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) now consider ISIS a bigger threat to U.S. national security than illegal immigration, and 42% think fighting ISIS is the best use of the U.S. military.

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

Please sign up for the Rasmussen Reports daily e-mail update  (it's free) or follow us on Twitter or Facebook .  Let us keep you up to date with the latest public opinion news.

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.