January 11th, 2010
01:53 PM ET
11 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. sifto77

    And who did you poll CNN–your loyal left? Hey, I thought the left was against killing terrorists! They were when Pres Bush was in!!!

    January 11, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  2. Jane/Seattle

    In my view, the U.S. is the leading Terrorist State! STOP these WARS NOW! You are KILLING People's Families!

    January 11, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. Dale

    This tells us nothing that the normal folks in the middle of the political spectrum already know.

    January 11, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. Obama ... worst President ever!

    Majority of what, African Americans? Obama is no more capable of handling terrorism then Bozo the the Clown!! It's scary as hell to think Obozo is going to protect the Country.

    January 11, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Jill, California

    A poll actually in President Obama's favor; this must have Cheney spitting nails..... Could it be we finally have a leader that thinks before he spouts off?

    January 11, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. Rick

    I have to worry about the level of concern in our country, we are going back to sleep

    With Obama in the seat, I don't believe we are as safe as we were...period

    Giving rights to war criminals and then spending American tax dollarst to hold trials in NYC just for politics....the terrorists are war criminals and should be treated as such

    Obama...totally preoccupied with his political legacy, health care...couldn't give 2 cents about jobs, the economy and security

    Change is here and we are all paying, less safe, less work, and broke

    January 11, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. charlie in Maine

    Maybe we will get more support for our war now that we have stopped torturing people.

    January 11, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. unemployed by Obama

    CNN, who did you poll, real people or fake people who cannot see the sun for the Obama smoke screen. If you do a real poll, I think your results will be different.

    January 11, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. Ken

    Well I'm not one of those people who agree with the survey. The President is an apologist and a politically correct coward who's more concerned with Terrorists feelings than Americans safety.

    January 11, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. John, a proud veteran

    Some 80% of the work of the federal govt. is done by civil servants who are hard to fire. On any day a civil servant can unintentionally or intentionally make an appointed director look bad. Heads won't roll in this security gaffe because it was probably caused by some dumb klutz with job security.

    January 11, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Dale

    The unneccessary invasion of Iraq killed more Americans than all terrorist attacks since and including 9-11.

    Al Queda 3600 Americans killed
    GWB 5000+ Americans killed in Iraq

    January 11, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. Keepin It Real

    Of course, I have confidence in my President. He's the greatest.

    Go Obama!

    January 11, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. Reggie

    Nobody in my office thinks he is capable of much. Maybe pollsters should call here...

    January 11, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  14. Vinnyb

    Why does CNN do its best to try and reinforce positive perceptions about Obama.

    January 11, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Dodd Democrat...

    I believe the President will do everything he can to deal with the terrorist.

    However, we still need to hold accountable those who are not doing their job. Whether that be the TSA, Homeland Security, etc.

    Our safety depends on it........this is not a time to be political.

    January 11, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. Tia Lively

    ...a majority of what? Noone in my neck of the country thinks Obama can do anything right. We do not know what he did right as a community organizer goon, but he sure can't handle POTUS.

    January 11, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    The third of Republicans who have a positive view of the president's ability to protect us are the ones who actually know how to think for themselves and get their information from sources other than Fox.

    January 11, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. wake up

    Obama hasn't made 1 good choice as president. He is embarassing. What a liar, and typical chicago mobster.

    January 11, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. Tim

    You are doing a great job Mr President. And to Mr G the former mayor of NY, there were at least 6 terrorist attacks in addition to 9/11 that occured during the Bush Administration!!! I bet he believes that no affairs happened during his first marrage also!!!

    January 11, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  20. Obama reads his lies, unions thrive, gov't grows, national debt grows, our freedoms and our economy dies.

    Who did you poll, Al Qaeda?

    January 11, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  21. Do You Right Wingers Really Care About The Facts

    Liz' Cheney's papa and his boss after 9-11, prosecuted 828 terrorists in the CIVILIAN courts, with a conviction rate of 88 per cent.
    As opposed to 20 military tribunals with three convictions. The most famous was Bin Laden's driver you was sentenced by those liberals at the military court to 5 1/2 years. Five years was dropped and after six months he was sent back to . . . you guessed it . .. . Yemen.
    Just shows how "tough" our military tribunals are.

    Source: NYU School of Law – Center on Law and Security.

    January 11, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  22. jules sand-perkins

    If six in ten think that terrorists will always find a way to launch an attack, no matter what the government does to attempt prevention, then those six persons need to ask themselves how many El Al airliners have been exploded at 30,000 feet or crashed into the Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall simultaneously.
    Tough security makes it tough to terrorize a tough nation.
    Respectful, bowing, sexually modest security makes terrorists giggle at the USA and the President. Forget what terrorists think of the-system-worked Ms. Napolitano.

    The 6/10 who think that President Obama can keep us safe propably believe the old saying, "do good, and good will come back to you." Four or five of those 6/10, I'd bet, have started bowing to each Arab wearing native dress that they encounter on the street near the former location of the World Trade Center.
    Remember the Alamo and the Pentagon.

    All airline workers in this country, and those stationed abroad, should be trained by El Al.

    January 11, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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