Terrorism Much Lower Priority In Opinion Polls


Seven years after Sept. 11, 2001, just 2 percent of Americans identified terrorism as the nation’s top problem in a Gallup survey in last month, the lowest level since the 2001 attacks, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. In a survey issued this week, just 38 percent of respondents said they were at least somewhat worried that they or their families would become victims of terrorism – a nine-point drop since last year and the lowest level since mid-2005. Said Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor: “Americans do not report to us that terrorism is the top issue for them in this election. It is the economy.”

Despite this, a new report from the bipartisan Partnership for a Secure America argues that the U.S. is still “dangerously vulnerable” to terrorist attack, and the American Security Project, a think tank chaired by former Sen. Gary Hart, concluded this week that the U.S. “is not winning the ‘war on terror.’ ” While standing tall against terrorism might carry little political risk, Ohio State University political scientist John Mueller argues that obsessing on such a low-probability event perpetuates public fear. “It’s like the drug war,” he said. “Politicians are afraid to say your concerns are overblown, so it will keep going on forever.” Change may come not because of public opinion, but because of cost. “We’re spending $50 (billion)-$60 billion on the Department of Homeland Security,” he said. “It’s a lot of money, and there’s beginning to be a certain amount of rumbling.”

Link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2008/09/11/MNF312R4H0.DTL

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