July 2nd, 2008
07:00 AM ET
15 years ago

Poll: Terrorism fears are fading

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/02/art.poll.gi.jpg
caption="Mourners throw flowers in a reflecting pool at Ground Zero."]

(CNN) - As Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama battle over who has the best approach to national security, a new CNN poll finds Americans' concerns about terrorism have hit an all-time low for the post-September 11 era.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday, 35 percent of Americans believe a terrorist attack somewhere in the United States is likely over the next several weeks. The figure is the lowest in a CNN poll since the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

Between 2002 and 2006, summertime polls typically showed that a majority of Americans believed that a terrorist attack was likely. Last summer, that figure dropped to 41 percent. This summer, it dropped another six points.

The new CNN poll also indicates that the war in Iraq remains deeply unpopular. Only three in ten voters favor the war, while 68 percent oppose it.

Similarly, only a third of voters would like to see the next president keep the same number of troops in Iraq that are currently stationed there.

For McCain, who is seeking to highlight his national security credentials and has staunchly defended the U.S. presence in Iraq, the latest poll results may not be viewed in a positive light.

"Senator McCain's greatest strength is in foreign policy, particularly his reputation as the candidate best able to fight the war on terror," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

"As the threat of a terrorist attack continues to recede in the mind of the American voter, the state of the economy and other domestic issues are likely to become even more important. That would be good news for Senator Obama, since the Democrats currently beat or tie the Republicans on every issue
except terrorism."

Another potential problem for McCain may be found in President Bush's latest job approval ratings.

According to the new survey, only 30 percent of Americans approve of how Bush is handling his job, while 68 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's job performance. These numbers are roughly consistent with the president's approval ratings over most of the last two years.

These numbers also reinforce the need for the presumptive Republican nominee to create an impression of distance and distinction between himself and Bush. Democrats, on the other hand, are eager to tie McCain to the unpopular outgoing Republican president and portray his possible election as the
equivalent of a third Bush term.

The poll, conducted June 26-29, surveyed 906 registered voters and carries a sampling error of 3.5 percentage points.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. Janey

    Wow-headline"Terrorist fears fading" then–as terrorist threats recede, a new survey says President Bush popularity recedes?! Who do you people think made our country safe? If the country is not secure, everything else is irrelevant. How do people think? Would you rather have a lax approach to terrorism as the democrats portray? I find it mind-boggling that people think this way. Those terrorists are simply waiting for this attitude and a President soft on terror. They are brain-washed at birth and impossible to change. Please vote McCain for the good of the country.

    July 2, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  2. LET IT GO

    Yes unfortunately it is, familys are suffering fiinancially. Scarying the american people is just not going to work this time Sorry McCain.

    July 2, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  3. julliana

    Don't worry, the Republicans will make sure they stir this up enough to make everyone frightened enough about it before the November election.

    July 2, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  4. v.a.

    Just wait for the October surprise or for the U.S. to conveniently invade Iran right before the election to help tip the scale for McCain. Don't be surprised when that stupid terror scale is on blood red come election time!

    July 2, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  5. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    Typical American silliness. Because we haven't been attacked–they aren't planning to.

    Forget our lessons learned and let our guards down–and we'll expose our citizens and their families to a repeat performance.

    Freedom and liberty is a great thing–but it provides a breeding ground for arrogance and ignorance to flourish.

    July 2, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  6. Al, NY NY

    uh oh, John. You'd better make sure we are reminded of how much danger we are in! Myabe Joe Lieberman and the rest of the fear mongers will refute this information to make sure all us lemmings know that only a Republican can keep us safe and a Democrat will result in total devastation

    July 2, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  7. CE

    I doubt the terrorists are going to announce their next attack so we just need to be prepared by electing a President who is competent to lead this nation if we get attacked. We don't need to sit in fear – we just need to have leadership in place to take action immediately if we are attacked.

    Clearly, that person is John McCain. Can you imagine if we had someone so untested as Obama in office after 9/11 what would have happened?

    Democrats for McCain.

    July 2, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  8. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    we were not thinking about a terror attack on 9/10 01 ether, but it happened. The real reason that we are focused on the economy is because that is what the liberal media wants you to vote on. they know they will lose the election if they focus on Iraq like they did in 04. all economists are saying that by 1/ 09 the economy will be back in good shape anyway but the media will not report that because they want to show you that Obama made it change.If Obama gets in to office there will be a terror attack within two years of him taking office. why ? because he likes to pretend that the threat is not real.

    July 2, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  9. Belle

    Actually, it would not be smart of terrorists to attack when we are AFRAID of being attacked, would it?

    Nice going CNN....your story on the poll helped terrorists know the time is ripe...

    July 2, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  10. DJ in Mi

    Now McSame has no chance of winning.

    July 2, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. Proud REAL Democrat

    Wait a minute! This is an issue! If we're not scared, then what are the Republicans going to do? Talk about the real issues; the economy, healthcare, and education? They can't do that so I'm sure all this "predicting" coming from the McCain camp about another terror attack might be likely to come to fruition... in September. Coincidence?

    July 2, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  12. PUMA = NUTS

    Well that could probably be because we're too broke, hungry and sick to really be scared of anything. The worst terr*ists in this country are int eh White House.

    July 2, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  13. Cosmo

    Bush may not be popular, but people feel safer these days. Bet he doesn't get any credit for that though.

    July 2, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  14. ProundToBeDemocrat

    I am glad people are getting wise rejecting the republican fear tactic. Terrerists were created by Bush are in Afganistan and Iraq. Mccain keeps saying he would be a better president to handle terrorist I do not buy that it took Bush 8 years and terrorists are stronger now than 8 years ago, so republicans are good at starting war and choas, but not good ending war or negotiating in civil way.

    July 2, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. Joe - Wilmington, DE

    Viscious, sadistic organizations like Al Qaeda tend to strike when one's guard is let down. Take heed.

    July 2, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  16. Tom in S.A.

    Thank you GW for that, of course most on CNN are biased and will just bash him, or any repub for that matter....

    July 2, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. Franky

    You ain't got nothing on us Terrorists! You wanna go at it, we'll go at it...........old-school!! LOL!!

    July 2, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  18. UNdecided

    CNN.......As the threat of a terrorist attack continues to recede in the mind of the American voter, the state of the economy and other domestic issues are likely to become even more important................
    McSame and Company was trying to use FEAR tactics for Political
    gain...........Shame on you .......OLD HOG JAW!!!!!!

    July 2, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  19. Jay

    Go McCain.

    Obama is just an American Idol Wannabe! He is an emtry suit. You freaks who voted for Obama over Hillary will be at fault when McCain wins in November!

    July 2, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  20. Becky

    Yeah, and Osama Bin Laden will probably die of natural causes and never be caught. I understand cleaning up the mess in Iraq and it wouldn't be fair if all our troops just left, but for McCain to say we'd have a presence in Iraq like Germany and Vietnam is not at all the same. Our people are getting attacked and killed in Iraq, which is nowhere near the same as "a presence". Troops who have been there and still serving should keep their honor, yes, but also realize that more troops dying isn't worth it. Iraq's government needs to get with the program more, and I won't be surprised if they take all of August off again like last year.

    July 2, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  21. tai

    O im sure Mccain hates to see this poll, because the only way republicans can win an election is scaring the general public, guess its not gonna happen this yr.

    July 2, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  22. RSR

    We American's become complaisant very quickly. There have been no terrorist attacks here in the USA since 9/11, so everthing is fine, lifes good. Right? remember that sick feeling in your stomach when you first saw that news footage? The primary role of Government is to provide for the safety of its' citizens. Gas prices, taxes, the Ecomony, are secondary and work themselves out in time. Beware, the Al Qaeda terrorists are watching our election closely. They have formulated a 'plan B' which calls for more attacks inside the USA. So now until election time, every nite you tuck your children into bed and kiss your spouce goodnite, ask yourself this...Who will keep my family safe? Then vote for that person...McCain,

    July 2, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  23. Osama BL

    Ahh, the Americans have become complacent...

    July 2, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  24. Nick - Arlington, VA

    So McCain will have a hard time scaring up votes huh....

    Obama '08

    July 2, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  25. Chipster

    McCain has supported Bush's lame excuse to invade Iraq "preemptively." This is unprecedented in U.S. history and a terrible example for the world. We are not safer because of their rogue actions. In fact, the American people have allowed them to simply discard the constitutional protections that are intended to keep us safe from an abusive government. Shame on our representatives but more shame on us for tolerating it and thinking that surrendering our freedom will make us safer.

    Our Constitution will only defend us if we defend it. If we don't, we don't deserve our freedom.

    July 2, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
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