CNN Poll: Few think terrorist attack likely in near future
September 30th, 2011
11:48 AM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Few think terrorist attack likely in near future

Washington (CNN) - Less than one-fifth of Americans think a terrorist attack is likely in their own community, according to a new national survey.

And a CNN/ORC International Poll also indicates that just over a third of the public says an act of terrorism is likely somewhere in the U.S. in the next few weeks.

The survey was conducted last weekend and released Friday, just a few hours after officials confirmed that American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki - whose fluency in English and technology made him one of the top terrorist recruiters in the world - was killed in an airstrike in Yemen.

According to the poll, only 16% of Americans think an act of terrorism in their community is likely in the next several weeks, a number that has never risen above 20% since 2001. Eighty-four percent of people questioned said such an act is not likely.

"Will the death of Anwar al-Awlaki make Americans feel safer from terrorism? Maybe, but they already feel pretty safe," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The survey indicates that 37% say an act of terrorism is likely somewhere in the U.S. in the next few weeks; more than six in ten say an attack is unlikely.

"Worries about terrorism somewhere in the U.S. were higher in 2010 and immediately after the death of Osama bin Laden, but were at roughly the current level from 2007 through 2009," adds Holland.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from September 23-25, with 1,010 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: CNN poll • Polls • Terrorism
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. ConservaFASCISTS/TEAliban/TEAhadists

    Pirates – DEAD
    Osama – DEAD
    Awlaki – DEAD

    This administration is tough on terror. I thought the republicans were supposed to be tough on national security. Zawahiri better watch his back!!!

    September 30, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power

    The odds get lower and lower with every Hellfire missile we fire! WAY TO GO CIA AND OUR MILITARY!!!

    September 30, 2011 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power

    Economy - DEAD
    Job Creation - DEAD
    Housing Market - DEAD

    I agree, Obama sure knows how to kill things!

    September 30, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. Sandy

    They must feel that Obama is keeping us safe.

    Obama 2012!

    September 30, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Evans

    Great job Obama, soon the economy will turn around. It's funny how people are attacking the president jobs plan but do the other party have one. The previous administration ruin the. Economy, don't attack Obama for trying to fix it. Obama 2012, let's give him four more years to turn it around.

    September 30, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. ConservaFASCISTS/TEAliban/TEAhadists

    YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power

    A thriving capitalist super power? We had that a long time ago. We're more like a striving fascists society all thanks to those TEApublicans sworn to uphold a pledge of no tax increases on the wealthy rather than uphold the Constitution.

    September 30, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  7. shoegazer

    The likelihood of another attack went down considerably as soon as Shrubs administration left office.

    September 30, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. Cfrench

    18%? Isn't that the same percent of the population that the teatards account for? Of course it is.

    This country suffered a great loss of life because of Bush, both on 9/11, and in his personal war in Iraq. Now with Obama in charge our military and CIA have taken out all sorts of the bad guys, Bin Laden of course being the prize.

    September 30, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  9. ConservaFASCISTS/TEAliban/TEAhadists

    Economy – DEAD(reviving without TEApublicans)
    Job Creation – DEAD(2.9 million jobs added)
    Housing Market – DEAD(you got me on that one)

    September 30, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    somebody wrote:
    Economy – DEAD
    Job Creation – DEAD
    Housing Market – DEAD

    I agree, Obama sure knows how to kill things!
    -------------
    It is hard to kill something that is already dead on arrival.

    Economy: -5% GDP to +3% GDP
    Jobs Creation: -700,000 jobs/month to +200,000 jobs/month
    Housing Market: It's complicated.

    The selling prices of homes was inflated by banks trying to sell mortgages with the highest price. Banks figured out how to make more profit when a loan defaulted than when the loan was paid off. We saw a few decades worth of price increases over the span of one. The average middle class family can no longer afford to buy a home. We are seeing a contraction in prices.

    September 30, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. T'sah from Virginia

    No Compromise ► ALIVE
    Obstruction ► ALIVE
    My Way or the Highway ► ALIVE

    Yep, this is what the Republicans love to do to keep America DEAD!!!

    September 30, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. Jake

    and this is why the Republican party is grasping to make the economy their platform. They preyed on the fear of America for the past three elections and succeeded (with a little extra help from big business and the Supreme Court and other elected officials). Thanks to the White House for keeping America safe!

    September 30, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. JD

    Even with a Mooslim president?

    Sorry. I accidentally read the Tea Party talking points, straight from the Koch brothers and Dick Armey. You know, that corporate-funded "grassroots" conservative movement that deals in serious debate, like obsessing about trying to make the president seem un-American to the point of making up fake birth certificates?

    September 30, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  14. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    I hope and pray that we don't have another terrorist attack. If we did just as sure as our flag is red, white, and blue the far right would BLAME President Obama instead of being united behind him as we all were with President Bush. So far as they like to say about Bush, Obama has kept us SAFE for 3 years. Hopefully more years to come.

    September 30, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Marcus

    This is nothing more than America's A – D – D [short attention span]. Let there be an attack tomorrow and we'll see all these polls and talking heads lambasting our countries leadership.

    We bemoan the budget deficity and yet in reaction to a once in 60 years event [9-11 was this generations PEARL HARBOR], we allow the Republican Party to blow up the nations finances [DOD spending is now $300B higher PER YEAR than in 2001] by constantly touting all things that claim to be associated with national defense. In an adult America, we wouldn't let the GOP off the hook for this unnecessar spending; they too have to face some accountability.

    The fickleness of the American people makes me sick. [not really the right word but I can't quite put my finger on it].

    September 30, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. RINO Bil

    Looks like "YOU Decide 2012" has a significant memory problem. George Bush and Congressional Republicans killed the Economy, Job Creation, the Housing Market and the Stock Market before Obama even took office.

    September 30, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  17. Malory Archer

    That must mean that most people believe President Obama will get a second term! Thinking Americans understand that the teabagger rethugliban only rely on the use of fear as a means to lead (Americans around by the nose), and they aren't buying with they're selling this time around, or anytime in the forseeable future.

    September 30, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. Malory Archer

    YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power: All three of those things were dead long before President Obama even had the Dem nomination.

    September 30, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    @YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power:

    Last budget surplus: Democratic president
    40-year US economic expansion: Democratic president
    Strongest middle class in the world: Democratic presidents

    Extortion around the debt ceiling: Republicans
    Extortion of disaster relied in exchange for spending cuts on programs they don't like: Republicans
    Failed economic policies (tax cuts for the rich DON'T create jobs here in the US): Republicans
    Desire to control the most private aspects of your life: Republicans
    Epitome of hypocrisy ("pro-life"/Let 'im die!"): Republicans

    September 30, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. The Other Michael in Houston

    Few Think terrorist attack likely in the future???????? We have been continuously been attacked by terrorist, they changed their name from Al-Queda to the Tea Party. Someone needs to send a drone to the next Tea Party rally!

    September 30, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. BinFL

    I love how people like "You Decide 2012" just can't let themselves give credit to President Obama. Apparently, President Obama owns the economy but has nothing to do with getting the terrorists...too funny! Guaranteed that if Bush & Co were still in charge with a sinking economy and they were the ones actually going after the terrorists instead of innocent Iraqies all we would hear from the "news" and pundits would be how great they are on the war on terror...we wouldn't hear anything about the economy, the debt, deficit, etc! Obama & Co are doing exactly what they said they would do and are going after the terrorists with drones and are being very successful – but where's the credit???

    September 30, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. Seattle Sue

    RON PAUL is a complete idiot and his son RAND PAUL is worse. To think that Paul would criticize Mr. Obama about the killing of the traitor who wants to kill us, Anwa al Awlaki. Paul must think this is the path to the Presidency. What an old fool. I hope he goes to the bottom of the polls.

    September 30, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. Jonathan

    @ YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power... you do know that all of those things... housing, the economy, jobs... these were all dead BEFORE 2009.

    September 30, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. anthony78

    "YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power
    Economy – DEAD
    Job Creation – DEAD
    Housing Market – DEAD
    I agree, Obama sure knows how to kill things!"

    I like how you credit Obama for "killing" these things, while making no mention of the Bush policies that caused all of this, or the current Republicans sitting in Congress who are contributing to the lack of recovery.

    Wether you like it or not, Obama has done ALL he can to keep us safe. Unemployment, yes, is a terrible situation.. but you know whats worse? Getting killed by an act of terrorism. 3000 some odd people had jobs in NY.. but if those employees were in harms way, what good were those jobs. Some of you sometimes need to take a step back and look at the big picture, in context, instead of constantly injecting the Presidents name into everything, to try and make him look bad, and yourselves look better.

    September 30, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    If there were a terrorist attack here, the order of suspects would be: #1: Local rightwing extremists, #2: our government or allies staging a "false flag" operation and #3: A foreign extremist.

    September 30, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |