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. Michelle

    (Comment lost so will try again. Please post, CNN, and thank you.)

    The fears have faded because we haven't been attacked
    since 9/11. I give the Bush administration credit for that even though I am a Democrat. Do you think our enemies have stopped trying? Guess again!

    As for the war, Obama is misleading his supporters. Obama was not even a US Senator at the time of decision. All that he did was give a speech in his Chicago district.

    Obama has repeatedly changed his view on Iraq. Obama's view
    shifts depending on the audience. Obama's current "stance" is an attempt to pander for votes. Do we know what his real stance is? No, we don't!

    Obama has even stated that the US should remain in Iraq and stabilize the region. Sound familiar? That's what McCain wants to do–only he doesn't lie about it.

    Obama has even agreed with Bush.

    This can be
    verified with Barack's own statements in the media. Go to YouTube
    and search: The Iraq war video Barack Obama does not want you to see!!

    You will be stunned!

    July 2, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. PG

    The only reason McSame pats himself on the back for his military service and THINKS he is better on national security is because he has NOTHING, NOTHING to offer the average American citizen.

    Those who vote for him, as with McSame, have no clue!

    July 2, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. Nobama

    Obama and the dems are the worst self-serving hypocrites we could ever have in charge of our national security. It is going to be a disaster just thinking about illegal immigration, crime, limiting surveillance, appeasing terrorists, stifiling industry with more unneeded regulation and taxes....we're in for change alright, but it is the kind of change that is going to make us never forget why Carter was not re-elected. Study History!.

    July 2, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. Don

    Let's see if the liberals on this blog can stomach giving Bush and the Republicans a little credit for the fact.

    (Probably not, as liberals' narrowmindedness limits their ability to be self-aware).

    July 2, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. Tammy - KCMO

    "As the threat of a terrorist attack continues to recede in the mind of the American voter"

    I don't think this statement is correct. I highly doubt anyone will forget that it happened or that it could happen in the future. However, I'm not going to spend my life living in fear of what could happen. I would hope the US has learned from it's past and has put enough safety measures in place and made the public more aware of its surroundings to prevent this from happening again.

    I think Obama is our hope to prevent this from happening again anytime soon as for once we have the chance to put someone in office that is willing to talk to our enemies and try to understand them rather than bully them and try to make them govern their countries in the same manner as the US.

    When will the Republicans and the religious right realize not everyone has to be like us? Not everyone has to be of the christian faith, not everyone has to even be religous at all. Everyone has the right to be different and it shouldn't always be this mentality of "if you're not with us, you must be against us".

    July 2, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  6. G

    People can only live so long in a fear induced haze. Once again, in an election the Republicans are offering the "vote me and I won't let anyone kill you but I'll send your kids to war to get killed" candidate. Sorry, McCain and GOP, you need a new song and dance. Fear: that dog won't hunt any more.

    July 2, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  7. pete

    Okay John McCain has not had to go through nearly as much as Obama. His primary season was maybe half as hard and there are little to no rumors out there as opposed to Obama who, so far as i have heard from Fox News is a stinking muslim gay american hater and a secret insider jihadist who won't stop until every american gives up all their rights and takes time out to go to osama's gay extravaganza.
    Don't act like Obama has had it easy, if anyone he deserves a little bit of respect for beating hilary clinton.

    July 2, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. Donna

    I guess the Republicans will have to try harder to scare us into voting for them!!!!

    July 2, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Amy

    That is becasue Barack has expose the common fear tactic of the Republican Machine. It is also true that the Republicans have not released the color coded terror alert fear meter in the news.

    Why is no one reporting that the US is paying the Insurgence not to fight. The minute we stop bribing them, they will start right back up. It amazes me how there is such a Republican spin on the war in Iraq.

    July 2, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  10. steve

    Who is more patriotic?

    McCain or Clark?

    I think that McCAin is not even in the same swiftboat as Clark.

    July 2, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  11. carol

    i think everyone knows i just think ther's some people out there desperate to cling to that, people who support militarization of the US and who don't really know how it works
    those are the same people who jumped at going to war with iraq because hey MAYBE they had something to do with 9/11
    or did we go for the WMD's... or was it to eliminate SAdam... i'm not sure maybe it was for mama husein's secret pancake recipe

    July 2, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  12. katiec

    Fear is the only thing the republicans have going for them. They try to instill that in everyones minds, for, if they didn't people might
    think about the economy, largest deficit in history, their
    uncontrolled, unfunded spending, unjustified war, and McCains
    95% support of Bush's policies.
    Homeland Security is a joke. All it has been is a costly spending
    machine. Hand picked contractors in Iraq have cost us billions.
    The republicans have almost destroyed our country.

    July 2, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  13. Sue

    Even though many of you won't admit it, this is a tribute to the policies of Pres Bush. The al Quaeda jerks have not withdrawn their jihad threats - they still intend to kill us if they can. We have a president who stands in the gap. What will we have if Obama is elected: just one more big mouth and nothing else, which will not cause al Quaeda to quit.

    July 2, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  14. washington

    I don't support McSame by any means. I'm leaning more toward Obama. I'm just saying everyone beleives something different about religion and I think we should agree to disagree about that subject on here.

    July 2, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  15. thiselectioncountstome

    I think what W. Clark said was right. It does not disrespect McCain's experience – just points out it does not add to his ability to be president. I have thought this from day one of the campaign.

    July 2, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. Rob Johnson

    Good, I guess the hysterical fear-mongering by the Bush administration is finally starting to wear off. I've been wondering when that would happen.

    We do live in a dangerous world, but we lived in a dangerous world before 9/11 too, and that is no reason to give up our civil liberties and live in a state of perpetual war.

    I am more likely to die in a car accident than a terrorist attack. Therefore, I'm more afraid of people who talk on their cellphone while driving than I am of Osama Bin Laden.

    July 2, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  17. Will

    But sadly racism still exists............

    July 2, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  18. Allen Friedman--- Henderson, Nevada

    John McCain admits to a lack of knowledge on economics, has no idea on heathcare, is for a war that the American public is 70% against and does not want to pay for, is the oldest nominee ever for the office of president of the USA, does not have a lot of support from Republican party, must deal with problems that Bob Barr and Ron Paul will cause in general election and must balence George W policies and his own are not in agreement and we are told that this is not a problem for this man to be president? Is this country that gulliable to think that a we need to punish ourselves past the Bush years? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!!!

    July 2, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. former HRC Supporter now McCain Supporter

    So that means you're gonna trust your country to an empty suit like Obama all of a sudden? I don't think so. btw, to all you McCain bashers doesn't this mean that Bush and McCain's surge has kept this country SAFE? Try bashing him on that, you big WHINERS! and JERKS! because that's what all of you are and so are your mothers!

    July 2, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  20. tom

    Additionally, Cindy McCain doesn't trust John with her money and insisted on a pre-nuptial agreement. Why would America trust McCain with our money and the lives or our sons and daughters?

    July 2, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. Ilona Hussein, Proud Canadian!


    Please CNN, is this a slow news day? I really don't think so. I have been browsing the other MEDIA POLITICAL ARTICLES, and boy there are quite a lot of interesting stuff out there.

    For instance CNN, why aren't you posting the following article on your ticker.......


    July 2, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. Dale

    "Senator McCain's greatest strength is in foreign policy, particularly his reputation as the candidate best able to fight the war on terror,"

    For what reason?? Because he crash landed and spent 5 years as a POW? How does that make you the better candidate at foreign policy?

    July 2, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  23. joe

    This election republicans have nothing to offer. No fears, no economics. That is why Mccain is in colombia and mexico......too bad!

    July 2, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  24. JD

    Kudos to Mr. Bush, the US Congress, the US military and Coast Guard, and the FBI and CIA, and state and local government for keeping terrorism attacks from US soil!

    July 2, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  25. Ilona Hussein, Proud Canadian!

    Sorry folks that should read "TERRORIST GROUP" and believe it or not my SPELL GHECK didn't catch it.

    July 2, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
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