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. Lisa in FL

    Nice try Dick and Liz (Cheney not Burton/Taylor). Thanks for playing. Please try again soon!

    January 11, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. sonny chapman

    I think most Repubs. would squawk about how Obama kisses his daughters goodnight.

    January 11, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. Herbie C

    More lies from the Premier Lying Network; you trust these stats and they'll sell you a bridge, too, along with a used car. They used to do this under Stalin/Hitler too, except they used to be more slick.

    January 11, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. PEC

    Let me guess. CNN polled with 23% of population being African-American again. About double reality.

    January 11, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. shamgar50

    Looks like America is starting to ignore the Obama haters.

    January 11, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  6. Aunt Bea and Opie

    He knows the real terrorists are the republicans and other fear mongers like Rush Limbaugh.

    January 11, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. notfooledbydistractions

    Translation of the results....Nearly two thirds of the people still have their spines and choose not to play chicken littles. The remaining percentage still choose to be shivering cowards. It just goes to show you that fear mongering still works on some, but it's not nearly as successfully as it was during the bush admin.

    Bravo America – we are a brave, strong and proud nation – not a nation of cowering sissies!

    January 11, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. Barry

    I have as much confidence in him as the Reagan can rise from the grave. Obviously this poll is flawed based on the people I talk to at work and in my community. Most feel they have no confidence in anything Obama does and are praying for the 3 years to pass quickly without any more damage done to the country economically as well as politically. Worst president since Kennedy.

    January 11, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  9. I told you so

    HA,HA,HA... I don't think this clown can handle a burglar let alone terrorism. He is the biggest joke the American people made to America. HA,HA,HA,HA.......

    January 11, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. Peggy

    The only terrorists we really have to worry about are those who call themselves conservatives, right wingers or republican. And they are actually PROUD of that!!!!!

    January 11, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. strong

    I think so many people are jaded after hearing about terrorism for so long, for so many years. It is a non-stop topic.....

    I am suffering from "wearyism". Can Barky help us with that ??

    January 11, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. Tom

    After 8 years of the Bush monarchy, Obama can only go up.

    January 11, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. Steph

    Expecting any president to keep us 100% safe is unrealistic. A shoe bomber, an underwear bomber, some lunatic sending anthrax through the mail, who knows what will happen next. However, I think President Obama and all the hard working employees of the intelligence agencies and the great men and women in our military are doing everything they can to keep us as safe as possible. We owe them our gratitude. They also deserve an American population that acts like reasonable people. We should not be playing politics with this issue.

    January 11, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. Frank, Las Vegas

    The GOP will jump on anything that happens, even if it's the same things that the Bush administration (having a trial in US courts). The GOP really wants something to happen, as sad as that is. The GOP only cares about politics and not the country. They (GOP) all hope the President and the country will fail, they are a sorry group of angry old white men. Our country needs less republicans in office, not more. I hope the democrat and independent voters remember that in the fall. Vote NO on the Party of NO.

    January 11, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. No More Incumbents

    Of course he can handle terrorists. He blames them on the Bush administration. There problem solved.

    January 11, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    The American voters told the cons EXACTLY what we thought of the republiklan efforts to keep us safe on 11/20/08.

    January 11, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. wait a minute

    Of course, President Obama can handle terrorism intelligently.

    January 11, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. gt

    he needs to act tougher.... he thinks every one loves him , so they wont attack this country,,, hello... most countries can stand us...

    January 11, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    He hasn't handled the economy, he hasn't handled health care reform, he has not kept any of his campaign promises, now why would anyone think he can handle terroism. He has made all the wrong moves so far in dealing with it. The failure list of this administration is growing by leaps and bounds.

    January 11, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. Danny

    "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.

    I would bet that less than a third of Republicans have a positive view of President Obama on ANY matter. On the other hand, two thirds of them think Bush did a great job and Sarah Palin would be a good choice for POTUS, so I'm not putting much weight on their judgement.

    January 11, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. Felonious Monk

    If you watched CNN this weekend and Liz Cheney you would have thought the world was coming to and end. She refused to discuss the issues and just tried to talk over and bully those with different viewpoints.
    Funny thing, Liz Cheney did not express any viewpoint. She just repeated the same old tired Republican mantra louder and louder. She did not want to hear the other viewpoints. She just wanted to disrupt. Typical

    January 11, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Fitz in Texas

    Well of course...": Americans confident Obama can handle terrorism"....according to this CNN poll. In the real world most Americans already know Obama is unable to handle the job of fighting terrorism. His last year as President has already proven that.

    January 11, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. Pete T

    When you consider that more Al Qaeda leaders have been taken out of commission in the short period of the Obama administration than during the entire Bush administration, I'd have to say the American peoples' confidence is well founded. Glad we can see through the smoke screen Cheney and the like are trying to put up.

    January 11, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. Kathy

    In general, Rebuplicans don't even approve that Obama was ever born. There is NOTHING he could ever do to win their approval so it is a waste of time to even ask them. I trust Obama on terrorism but that doesn't mean we won't be attacked again. There is no way, short of a total military state, to ensure that terrorists will not find a way to attack the US

    January 11, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. James Napoli

    President Obama's approach has been thoughtful and careful. As usual, he studies things carefully, makes sure he has his facts straight, and seeks the advice of compotent individuals. His approach and policies and right on the mark.

    January 11, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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