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Pew: 14-year High In Americans’ Worry About Terrorism at Home

Pew: 14-year High In Americans’ Worry About Terrorism at Home

“It can’t be explained by presidential preference alone”

So far, we’ve had numerous terrorist attacks on our soil since 9/11, and several stand out as particularly horrific:  the Fort Hood terror attack, the Boston bombing, San Bernardino, and Orlando.  As a result of the felt increase in terror attacks on our own soil, Americans feel less safe from terrorism.

According to Pew Research, a full 40% of the American public now feel that the ability of terrorists to launch a major attack is greater than it was on 9/11.  This is the highest this number has been in 14 years.

Currently, 40% of the public says that the ability of terrorists to launch another major attack on the United States is greater than it was at the time of the 9/11 attacks, which is the highest share expressing this view over the past 14 years. About a third (31%) say terrorists’ abilities to attack are the same as at the time of 9/11, while just 25% say their ability to initiate a major attack is less than at that time.

Pew attributes this growth to . . . Republicans.

The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Aug. 23-Sept. 2 among 1,201 adults, finds that the growth in the belief that terrorists are now better able to launch a major strike on the U.S. has come almost entirely among Republicans. Today, 58% of Republicans view the ability of terrorists to attack as greater than at the time of 9/11, up 18 percentage points since November 2013.

Only about a third of independents (34%) and 31% of Democrats say terrorists are now better able to strike the U.S. than they were then, and these views are similar to three years ago (32% of independents, 29% of Democrats).

Opinions about terrorists’ capabilities to attack the U.S. have long been divided along partisan lines: During George W. Bush’s presidency, Democrats were often more likely than Republicans to say the ability to terrorists to launch a major strike was greater than at the time of 9/11, while the reverse has been true during Barack Obama’s administration. But this marks the first time in the past 14 years that a majority in either party has expressed this view.

Watch the report:

The Atlantic concurs that partisanship, and not (say) the recent string of terror attacks on our own soil, is the driving force in the rising numbers.

It turns out Americans’ sense of security is tied to partisan identification. Democrats were the pessimistic party for most of the last decade. Republicans, on the other hand, were fairly confident in the country’s security. But as soon as Barack Obama took office, the polarity flipped; Republican discomfort soared, and Democrats suddenly felt a lot safer. Looking at these figures, it seems each side’s sense of security tracks more closely to whether their guy is sitting in the Oval Office, rather than any empiric judgement about the state of the world.

“Republicans are expressing doubts about the ability of the country to handle a terrorist attack under a Democratic president,” said Jocelyn Kiley, associate director of research at Pew. “It reflects confidence in the commander-in-chief—it’s not really a surprise that there’s a flip here.”

The Atlantic notes that the expansive partisan divide on this issue cannot be explained solely by who is sitting in the Oval Office.

But researchers are alarmed—not by the presence of the divide, which will probably always exist, but the degree. Kiley thinks the gap between Democrats and Republicans on security has grown so large that it can’t be explained by presidential preference alone.

“It’s not simply that Republicans are skeptical about Obama’s handling of terrorism in the same way Democrats were worried about Bush,” she said. This marks the first year in the survey’s history that a majority of either party thinks terrorists have the upper hand. And only 29 percent of Republicans think the government is doing a good job in reducing the threat of terrorism, compared to 75 percent of Democrats.

Part of the GOP’s concern about security is definitely linked to their distrust of Obama. Maybe even most of it. But Republican voters are reporting enough discomfort to indicate genuine fear. It’s that kind of fear that makes people think crime is going up, even when it’s going down, or that immigrants threaten national security, when researchers agree they don’t.

It’s interesting that neither Pew nor the Atlantic address the rise of ISIS and the very real, very horrific threat they pose not only to America but to the world.  It’s as if they aren’t aware of the aforementioned terror attacks on our own soil or of ISIS videos of mass beheadings, of burning a Jordanian pilot in a cage, and of slowly drowning a “traitor” in a cage.  It’s as if they haven’t heard that ISIS boasts about hiding their “soldiers” in the waves of refugees flooding Europe . . . and America.

“Maybe most” of Republican voters’ concern about security is “definitely linked to their distrust of Obama”?  Sure, maybe most of it is . . . and with good reason evidenced by the instability his “lead from behind,” “what red line?!” presidency has inflicted upon the world.


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“The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Aug. 23-Sept. 2 among 1,201 adults, finds that the growth in the belief that terrorists are now better able to launch a major strike on the U.S. has come almost entirely among Republicans. Today, 58% of Republicans view the ability of terrorists to attack as greater than at the time of 9/11, up 18 percentage points since November 2013.”

Conservatives deal in reality.

One of the things that’s been different over the Obamic Decline is the studied, overt flight from reality at the very top of our national government.

In a free and pluralistic society, there are LOTS of avenues of attack, radicalization via free information flows, and targets of opportunity. And our enemies are more and more sophisticated, dedicated, and deliberate.

To fight them successfully, you HAVE to deal in reality.

That being said, any American is probably safer from being harmed by a terrorist attack than being harmed as the victim of a car-jacking. That’s just another reality.

Humphrey's Executor | September 10, 2016 at 2:36 pm

We don’t “fear” terrorism in the sense that we fear for our personal safety. We fear that any innocent life will be destroyed for no good reason. We are outraged by the mindset that enables a person to shoot into, or drive a truck into, a crowd a screaming men, women and children; or cut the throat of an elderly priest. We resent the waste of lives and treasure caused by an ignorant, fanatical obsession with medieval beliefs that have a no place in civilized society and never did.

    Fantastic point. I don’t think any right-leaning person is afraid of terrorists, per se. That’s why we buy guns and ammo while the progressives hone their groveling appeasement skills.

    I also think we rightly “fear” the existential threat of a mass casualty attack on our nation, such as 9/11 was intended to be, and nearly was.

    As bad as the loss of life was, it was intended to be MUCH worse. It would have been but for a few factors in New York, and the bravery of the passengers and crew over Pennsylvania.

    It was ALSO diabolically intended to cripple the entire world economy by taking out the nerve center of the financial world.

    That is a very real thing to fear and defend against.

I remember all the carping and virtue-signaling over the Ebola epidemic, when our feckless CDC and US government had to be prodded into taking any of it seriously. The people that I know who were most concerned about it were the ones who had some dealings with HIV, and had expectations for the information available at the CDC website, and actions the government and hospitals should take.

The nonchalant attitude of both this administration and its CDC did not sit well with people who know about infectious diseases.

I wonder if more people are identifying as Republican based on their disgust with Democratic policies? Pew may have the cart before the horse.

The reality of it is that the public, whether consciously or unconsciously, understands on some basic level the damage done to the national security infrastructure and the military by the Obama Administration over the last 8 years.

They KNOW that during Sec. Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State that she engaged in highly dubious practices which moved classified documents from secure systems into the public domain (with her OWN STAFF testifying that they put the e-mail archive onto a GOOGLE Cloud Drive of all things in order to make a copy).

They’ve seen Snowden and WikiLeaks expose thousands of administration-driven tactical blunders, the myriad attempts to close the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility and the release of terrorists contained there into the wild, the Fort Hood shooting called “workplace violence” as if it wasn’t a US Army Major turned terrorist by Religion, the refusal to recognize Iran’s cheating toward Nuclear Weapons (and the lies which sold that plan to the Senate), North Korea’s sprint toward additional nuclear weapons with barely a rebuke.

ALL of the fore-mentioned things make it more and more likely that the United States will be the victim of a terrorist attack, either by individuals acting on vague orders from Non-Governmental organizations (Al-Qaeda, ISIS) or by state-sponsors of terrorism (Iranian Revolutionary Guard, HAMAS, Hezbollah, North Korean Intelligence, Syrian Intelligence, Turkish Intelligence, or possibly even Russia).

Not all people are consciously putting it together; many may not even be fully aware of it enough to articulate it if you asked them ‘WHY’ do you feel less safe from terrorism, but at least on a sub-conscious level their brains are putting together all of this information and telling them “worry about terrorism.”

When you have leftist for leaders, who do the people fear most foreign or domestic (the government) threats.