January 11th, 2010
01:53 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Majority confident Obama can handle terrorism

Washington (CNN) – In the wake of the Christmas day attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner, most Americans remain confident that the Obama administration can protect the country from terrorism, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday also indicates that the vast majority of Americans believe that full-body scanners should be used in airports across the country.

Nearly two-thirds of people questioned in the poll say they have a moderate or great deal of confidence in the administration to protect the public from future terrorist attacks, up 2 points from August. Thirty-five percent say they have not much or no confidence at all, down 1 point from August.

A number of Republicans have criticized the president over his handling of the attempted bombing of Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. But according to the survey, 57 percent approve of the way President Barack Obama's responded, with 39 percent disapproving of how he handled the situation.

"Only a third of Republicans have a positive view of Obama on this matter, but the key for the administration is the 55 percent of independents who approve of how the president responded to the incident on Christmas Day," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.


The poll also indicates no increase in overall concerns about terrorism. "In October, about a third said they were worried that a family member would become a victim of terrorism, and that number is unchanged in the wake of the attempted attack in December," Holland notes.
"The public seems to react calmly to individual incidents, possibly because most Americans believe that the government cannot prevent every single terrorist plot from occurring."

Six in 10 say the terrorists will always find a way to launch an attack, no matter what the government does, he adds - identical to the number who felt that way during the Bush administration.

The poll indicates that a majority of the public, 57 percent, think suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, should be tried in military court and not the civilian criminal courts that are currently handling this case. Forty-two percent back handling this case in civilian court.

According to the survey, Americans are also split on whether heads should roll because as a result of the attempted bombing of the airliner. Forty-six percent of people questioned feel that top officials in the federal agencies responsible for handling the issue of terrorism should be fired, with 51 percent saying no.

The poll indicates that nearly eight in 10 believe that full-body scanners should be used in U.S. airports, and only 15 percent say they would refuse to go through one of the new machines at an airport, if asked to do so.

"Most Americans don't see full-body scanners as a health risk, and more than seven in 10 say they would be unconcerned if asked to go through one at an airport. Women in particular seem to prefer the idea of a full-body scanner to being frisked by a security guard, even when the question makes clear that the guard doing the manual pat-down would also be a woman."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, with 1,021 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN poll • President Obama • Terrorism
soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. What???

    I feel safer with an adult in the White House. How about you?

    January 11, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. obama the liar

    only three more years until i'm confident.

    January 11, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    hahaha...I guess Darth Cheney's and his padawan Sith daughter's rhetoric...not to mention Newtered's blather...hasn't exactly been all that effective, eh GOPers? Maybe you should have Captain 9/11 get up in front of the cameras and try to scare people some more...maybe in one of his favorite dresses this time...yeah, that's the ticket...

    January 11, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Rod,
    You're also more impeached than Obama.
    More corrupt than Obama.
    Way, way dumber than Obama.

    January 11, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Jane/Seattle

    Stopping WARS and making amends would stop terrorism! It takes two to Tango and all who do this ARE Terrorists! Stop the Killing to stop the Violence. Little children are depending upon us. Peace is the only way for Sanity to return.

    January 11, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. Michael from Ventura

    Without question President Obama can handle terrorism. The name-callers and fear-mongers of the right continue to show their ignorance and UnAmerican activity...........what else is new?

    January 11, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. Mike1952

    Grave error in thinking (of course the poll was probably manipulated). Wingnut has no intention of doing what it really will take to avoid another attack on the U.S. It's coming. He is dismantling all the safeguards put in place after 9/11 and moving us back to a pre-9/11 mentality. Good luck with that. There have been 3 events since Wingnut came in. There were none for several years once the safeguards were put in place.

    January 11, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. clint

    He could do an even better job if Republican has beens like the Cheneys and Giuliani would stop promoting themselves and undermining their country and its best interests.

    January 11, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  9. Your comment is awaiting moderation AGAIN

    Gee the republicans have listed every murder, every hostage situation etc since Obama took office and said it was a terrorist attack.

    Now they say all the attacks during bush's term were not terrorist attacks. The shoe bomber wasn't they say, but the undie bomber was, how do they go about proving that statement.

    A private person angry with the military shoots and kills a solder, according to the republicans that's terrorism. But the anthrax attack during bush's term wasn't terrorism.

    So I guess bush is excused from all acts of terror including the main one that killed over 3000 people but Obama is saddled with each and every murder that has occurred. Isn't that typical republican out of their butt reasoning. No wonder the tea bags are crawling out of the woodwork. You find those type of republicans all over the place.

    January 11, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. katiec

    Well, it appears that the American people are intelligent enough to see through radical , irresponsible statements of your Cheney's, the republican party.
    After what their policies did to our country, it's hard to imagine anyone giving them an credibility.

    January 11, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. Jessica, NC

    I'm not surprised about this survey. I knew in my heart that most Americans trusted and believed President Obama was the right man for the job, and the leader who would keep us safe from terriorist.

    He's doing a yeoman's job and this will be reflected in the fact that he will be re-elected to serve as president for a second term. So the Republicans can dream on, because sane people in this country support the president.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    January 11, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. Travis In Colorado

    I don't think Obama can handle terrorism, in fact he can't handle anything if it's not on his teleprompter. I say get Obama out of there, let Hillary take over, and America will be better off. Either way, get Obama out of office.

    January 11, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. Obama 2.0

    The other 3rd does not know how to act now that they have a POTUS than can think and speak in full sentences :)

    January 11, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  14. geecee

    Of course he can. He has a family and lifestyle he wants to protect, too. He does love America, despite what his political adversaries want to claim and he will do everything he can to keep us safe. I have complete confidence in him. That Christmas Day terrorist evidently bought his ticket in Ghana paying in cash and Ghana could probably not care less how they get their money for an airline ticket. The dingbats at the terminal in Amsterdam have very lax security evidenty and didn't bother to have passengers take off their shoes or dispose of liquids, etc. No wonder he got through. And of course, the issue with the name. Hopefully, going forward, screening will be much more stringent, at least overseas. We know it is here in the US.

    January 11, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  15. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Don't be afraid right wingnuts, President Obama will keep you safe. You can come out now, and that will send a strong message to the terrorists that they won't win.

    January 11, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. JA/TN

    he will handle it as well as any of his predecessors

    January 11, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. vic bullard

    Too bad Cheney ..people are too smart to buy your "LIVE IN FEAR". You and Liz are not news anymore..move on!!

    January 11, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. Obama 2.0

    Think people! The last admin & GOP screwd up sooo bad that America hired a guy named Barrack Huessein Obama over a McCain or any other Bush like critter :)

    January 11, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. T'SAH from Virginia

    Yes, MOST Americans – the ones NOT following Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, GinGRINCH, Hannity, O'Reilly, Bachman and the NASTY TEA-PARTIERS – think President Obama could keep us safe!!! WHY wouldn't he????????????????????????????? Dang!!!

    January 11, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. Johnny Five

    It's easy to do when it doesn't exist in the first place.

    January 11, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    I am sure that Fox will release a poll by Rasmussen that says 90% of the birthers are afraid that terrorists will attack a southern state.

    January 11, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Shouldn't we wonder where Liz Cheney gets all her national security information?

    January 11, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. SocialismBad

    I doubt this poll would have been so forgiving if that airliner DID get blown up. Dumb luck saved those passengers. After all of the billions spent on security, system after system developed and deployed, huge inconveniences for the travelling public, it came down to dumb luck to save 300 people???

    Obama and the people charged with our safety better wake up before its too late.

    January 11, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  24. jeff jackson, alabama

    Protect us ?????
    The only reason that plane wasn't blown up
    was because of human error in the detonation
    of the explosive. Who's been fired ? What head
    hauncho in security lost there job?.
    Obama can PROTECT US ?????

    January 11, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  25. PAUL, CA

    Obama? Handle terrorism? This man does not even want to use the term "terrorist" because it will offend all those "moderate muslims" who protest so loudly when one of those "muslim extremist" blow themselves up as well as innocent bystanders. Listen America, we are at war. This president's approach to this problem is like ignoring illegal immigration, which by the way, he also does. I am a Democrat and I am disgusted by my party and all the lackeys who fall into line behind this "learn as you go" president. And believe me, BHO is "learning as he goes" at the expense of the American people. Wake up America and boot this pretender out of office!!! Please, one and done!!!

    January 11, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
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