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. Kat

    Majority of WHO??? Maybe a bunch of idiots!!!

    January 11, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Howard

    Obama really had nothing to do with that Christmas bomber, so it's hard to judge him based on that. What worries me is that while he surrounded himself with a great team during the campaign, his current team (with the exception of Hillary) is very weak, and add to that the fact that he is SO indecisive, we are in a lot of trouble. So far his responses to major problems like N Korea, Iran, etc is to basically do nothing.

    January 11, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Larry

    Passengers need to decide whether they'll subject themselves to a whole body scan or have their plane come apart at 30,000 ft.

    Doesn't seem like a very complicated choice to me.

    It's not like full body scans reveal anything. The images I've seen look more like x-rays.

    January 11, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. David in Houston

    Sorry, republicans...

    It appears that your 24/7 fear-mongering hasn't afforded you any political advantage after all.

    January 11, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. Peter s

    The President is a tough guy!! don't be cheated by the body frame. This guy has the capability of moving United States of America to even greater levels in the global economy.

    January 11, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Debby

    Of course CNN's poll always slants Obama's way. A President that still stays on vacation after a terror enactment especially around Christmas does not have the American people on his agenda first and formost.

    January 11, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. American

    Great. Can Giuliani, Perino, King, Hoekstra, Steele, et al. now stop turning our national security into their shameless fundraising, outright lies, and deplorable politics?!

    It's interesting to note the shoe bomber incident during Pres. Bush created a moment of unified vigilance how to improve our systems for all Americans.

    The same resolve should be handled for the underwear bomber. Fortunately, the majority of Americans have confidence in our Commander in Chief Obama's abilities to manage the situation constructively going forward.

    God Bless the USA!

    January 11, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    Pretty sure this will be my favorite Ticker article today. Go for it GOPers...let's see which one of you can perform the ideologues' domogoguery mating dance with the most flare. Winner gets a cookie to go with his fear..

    January 11, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. Traj

    Love ya Mr. President.. Keep up the awesome work...

    January 11, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. Jim

    I like the way that President Obama handled this affair much better than the way that President Bush handled the shoe bomber. For one thing, President Obama doesn't accuse the people of disagreeing with him of being traitors. But, he looked at the system, found out where he thought the problems were and ordered them fixed. I'd rather have intelligent responses than have a bunch fist pounding and bellicosity.

    January 11, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. Chris D.

    We the people, along w/ our government, will protect the land from terrorism...... United we stand!!!

    January 11, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Albert K. L.A., CA

    Full-body scanners amount to the surrender of our rights and dignity, which means our enemy has won. We must stand by our creed that armies exist at the consent of the people and declare war against the people who allow Al-Qaeda to thrive among them. That’s how we won the war against Japan. Likewise, Al-Qaeda will only be defeated when we give their people good cause to turn against them. Until then we should wonder what is next from our government? Will we have to someday bend over and surrender to a body cavity search for suppository bombs?

    January 11, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. katiec

    On terrorists being tried in civil court, just read statistics on results.
    Convictions of the 828 cases were 88%.
    Military court, number of cases, 20, convictions 15%.
    Believe some are misguided about capability.

    January 11, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Obama can handle anything!

    As long as it's written down for him on the teleprompter.

    January 11, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The POTUS is fighting this war tougher than the previous administration.

    Four words for you: Predator Drone/MQ-9 Reaper

    January 11, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. Dar

    Just depends on who you ask and in what district your in. If IM on a plane Christmas day and have to fight a terrorist off before he blows us up.......... well I guess I wouldnt be to happy with the way Odumbo was running things. Would You?

    January 11, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. mesamick

    I'm givin' 10-to-1 that the 39% who are peeing their pants over Obama "not keeping us safe" are largely white, southern, evangelical conservatives.

    Any takers?

    January 11, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. MikeH

    Bummer CNN, there goes your attempt to stir up discontent.

    January 11, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. D.

    The response now is different from the original response which was "isolated incident" so do the polling on time and get the right results! Seems like President Obama changed his views to the better and it is reflected in the poll; if he gets rid of Napolitano he will do even better!

    January 11, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  20. rob

    Thank you DNCNN for that reassuring story. You always seem to find a poll that makes for a positive spin. How about something a bit different like a story on President Obama's approval ratings since he became President. You know, the ones that have fallen faster and further than any President in modern history. How about some polling on his handling of the economy, or Health Care or 10% unemployment. I know what they are because I read and listen to many news outlets that report all the news even if it does'nt reflect well on this President or the Democrat party.

    January 11, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. Mike Syracuse, NY

    Interesting statistic on trying the bomber in military court, 57% in favor vs. 42% opposed. Some would call that a landslide in an election. America seems to know what the Obama Administration does not; these people are combatants not criminals, and this is a war, not a law enforcement issue.

    January 11, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  22. ObamasRecordDefict

    Obozo the clown can't find his way out of 10lb paper bag with out the teleprompter telling him what to do.

    January 11, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. Mark

    I was wondering where those numbers came from....ohhh a CNN poll, you can really trust those. Let's see CNN polled a thousand people, that's half of their audience!

    January 11, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  24. jmz

    yeah he sure can..hes done a great job indoing it so far....3 attacks less than 1 year. 3 attacks by people who should have easily been stopped. not to mention he cannot even keep unwanted reality stars out of the wh and away from dignataries. now we got a THIRD person who got in...wow hes got some record. Obama is a JOKE and naieve. ask the people that agree obama can keep us safe , if they believe in the tooth fairy too. i bet you get alot of yeses as well..koolaid its whats dinner

    January 11, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. Mississippi Mrs.

    Bull malarky. We have absolutely no confidence in the Obama administrations handling of terrorists. We will not forget them being mirandized, and getting 'Martha Stewart' treatment. One ankle band fits all... stay tuned to see if they are confined to house arrest. After all they have the sympathy of the liberal media and the Obama administration. Bill Ayers is an unrepentent terrorist, and we know how that played out with President Obama. We will not forget his dealings with convicted terrorists, and his ideas of social justice.

    We know. America knows.

    January 11, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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