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. Felonious Monk

    A majority, imagine that. A majority of Americans, real Americans, don't believe Dick and Liz Cheney's, or the Republicans, scare/playbook.

    Good work America.

    January 11, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. ej in Tacoma

    We sure should be confident in our President. I can't imagine the state of the government if someone like McCain or Palin were in charge. That thought makes me all the more confident in the Obama administration.
    E.J. Mohammed

    January 11, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. stephensonbillings

    I am more scared now than I have ever been.

    January 11, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Lotta Muni

    Did I miss something? What has Obama done aside from issue a statement days after his spokesperson misspoke? He's all talk and no action!

    January 11, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. walleye

    The only ones that would NOT believe this poll are the idiots that listen to the Cheney's and their scare tactics.

    I feel confident our Govt is doing all it can to protect us. We the public unfortunately must comply with the changes that will help to keep us safer. We are in a new age, and must be inconvenienced in order to keep ahead of the terrorists. I have no problem with airport scanners, and neither should anyone else if it will help the plane I am on get to its destination in one piece.

    January 11, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. Mike

    OH, a cnn poll, no other poll has him able to handle terrorism.

    January 11, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. LockandLoad

    He can't even protect himself! What makes anyone think he can protect an entire country?

    January 11, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Fire Napolitano

    I have zero confidence (and I'm not a Republican).

    January 11, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. ANGIE

    I feel he can handle terrorism. Just because he is not using the scare tactics and fear mongering of bush and that crazy cheney, doesn't mean he is soft on terrorism. someone should let the stupid repugs know that the attacks that happened on their watch is why we are in the mess we are in. cheney is a liar and loser. he can't rewrite history. we are hearing more from the liar now then we did when he was vp for 8 long miserable years.

    January 11, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. Justen

    And you wonder why no one takes your polls seriously CNN?

    Obama is an incopetant nincompoop.

    Ask any of the mid town manhattaners that get to have the terrorists lawyer up, right at ground zero.

    January 11, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  11. MA

    I thought the BLAMER IN CHIEF would say the attack was not my fault.

    January 11, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. lou

    He can't screw it up worse than Bush. My gosh, invading the wrong country after 9/11. There's really no where to go but up.

    January 11, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  13. andrew

    Seriously? That is horribly funny. I have never felt less safe.

    January 11, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. TJH

    YES HE CAN! God Bless You Mr. President

    January 11, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. I'm a wing nut afraid of Nancy Pelosi

    I was almost afraid to read this article, because that is not what Dick Cheney said, and he knows. We were attacked more by terrorists under his and George's watch than ever before, and that makes him an expert.

    January 11, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. Rob R

    Glad to see logic prevail amidst all the hype and hysteria.

    January 11, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. I Am The Not-So-Great and Powerless Wizard of Rush

    Republics keep praying for a sucessful terrorist attack. They are so hateful of our President that they are rooting for Al Queda.

    January 11, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Michael

    Obama could solve world hunger, end all wars, and the republicans would still not approve of how Obama is performing in his role as President.

    January 11, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. In violation of the fourth Amendment Amendment

    Obama should have his brain body scaned. This in dirrect violation of the fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Impeachment proceedings must begin.
    Those who reccomend or advacate this crime should be considered for for high treasen.

    January 11, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. 2000-2010 america's lost decade

    the gop is waiting for the next time we get hit. Their attempts to score political points over terror have been totally disgraceful, but that's what we can expect from the party of nihilism. win at all costs.

    January 11, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. Obama = WORST president EVER

    Another poll of registered Democrats....after two weeks of Obama dropping the ball, only cool-aid driking liberals believe this nonsense.

    January 11, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. TCM

    WRONGGGG!!! 2/3 of the liberals maybe, since that's all that Keating Holland seems to poll...and only polls about 1000 of them! He them throws out statements generalizing how the entire country feels based on a handful of whackjob liberal nuts....what statisical accuracy! Or is it merely the continuance of Obamamania....?
    Either way, Obama's still in over his head. Anyone that must use a teleprompter for ANY and EVERY occasion is not qualified to lead a girl scout cookie sale, let alone a country.

    January 11, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. D.D.

    I think Americans see the President as a parental extension and for the serios breach and no one in the White House or returning to the White House disturbed people.It could have been so much worse and thank God it wasn't.
    The Homeland Security Secretary like the Secretary of Defense should not be removed immediately. These next Cabinet members should be hands on in training for twelve months at least.

    January 11, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. Indy

    There is no doubt whatsover that my family and freinds feel much safer with Obama then they did with Bush or would feel with McCain. I would not feel safe with most Republicans as they have shown their true colors of an attack team and "eat your own if you have to" just as long as you have power. Obama did everything the right way after the attack and was intellegent and methotical in reaction to the attack. Sure we are all not used to having someone do things the right way but I could very much get used to it and sleep better every night with Obama as POTUS.Most Republicans wet their diapers through and after the attack and reminded me of an out of control junior high school, and the name calling was below junior high level.Very nice to have someone in control who themselves is in control.And it is great to see that after all the Republicans trying to brainwash us into fear the people have stood up and said, "not this time" and feel Obama is in control.

    January 11, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. Matt

    Who is CNN polling? Obama hasn't proven that he can keep us safe. Everything that he has done to this point has only weakened our securinty

    I actually got a ProBama economy poll before Christmas. The questions were so left leading that I had to give a 'no opinion' answer.

    January 11, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
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