London Terrorist Attack Increases Worries Among Americans

by David W. Moore

But most say attack does not indicate terrorists are winning the war

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A flash CNN/Gallup reaction poll conducted Thursday night after the terrorist bombings in London earlier in the day finds a worried American public, but a calm reaction overall.

Most Americans do not think the coordinated attacks on the London mass transit system indicate the terrorists are winning the war, though most respondents are worried a similar attack could occur in the United States in the next several weeks. And nearly half say they are more worried now because of what happened in London.

Still, most Americans feel that they and their families are at least "somewhat" safe from a similar attack in the United States.

The public leans away from the notion that the London bombings represent the beginning of a sustained terrorist campaign. But a majority of Americans agree that the terrorists targeted Great Britain because of its support of the United States in the Iraq war.

When reflecting on the mass transit system in the United States, most Americans say they would support a metal detector screening system for anyone who wants to ride trains, buses, or subways.

The poll was conducted Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:50 p.m. (EDT), in the wake of ongoing news coverage about the terrorist bombings of three London subway stations and a double-decker bus during morning rush hour. The news stories reported close to 40 dead and 700 wounded in the deadliest attack on London since World War II.

The poll finds that while 64% of respondents characterize the bombings as a "major setback," only 16% think the attacks indicate the terrorists are winning the war on terrorism. Forty-eight percent say the attacks are a major setback, but do not indicate the terrorists are winning. Another 30% believe the bombings represent only a minor setback.

Which comes closest to your view of today's terrorist attacks in London -- [ROTATED: they are a major setback that indicates that the terrorists are winning the war on terrorism, they are a major setback, but do not indicate that the terrorists are winning the war on terrorism, or they are a minor setback that does not have any long-term significance in the war on terrorism]?

Major setback,
terrorists winning

Major setback,
terrorists not winning


Minor
setback

No
opinion

2005 Jul 7

16%

48

30

6

Still, most Americans, 62%, say they are worried a similar attack could occur in the United States. However, that includes just 11% who are "very" worried. More than a third, 38%, say they are not worried.

How worried are you that a terrorist attack similar to the one that occurred in London will happen in the U.S. in the next several weeks -- very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not worried at all?


Very
worried


Somewhat
worried


Not too
worried

Not
worried
at all


No
opinion

2005 Jul 7

11%

51

25

13

*

The poll also shows that 47% of Americans say the attacks in London make them more worried about a terrorist attack in the United States.

Have the attacks in London made you more worried about a terrorist attack taking place in the U.S., or hasn't it affected you in that way?

More
worried

Not
more worried

Not worried
at all

No
opinion

2005 Jul 7

47%

39

13

1

Despite their concerns, most Americans, 83%, feel that they and their families are personally either "very" safe (30%) or "somewhat" safe (53%) from such attacks. Only 15% do not feel safe. Presumably, most Americans think the attacks would occur somewhere other than where they are.

How safe do you think you and your immediate family are from attacks similar to the ones that occurred in London today -- very safe, somewhat safe, not very safe, or not safe at all?

Very
safe

Somewhat
safe

Not
very safe

Not safe
at all

No
opinion

2005 Jul 7

30%

53

10

5

2

Looking to the immediate future, Americans are skeptical that the London bombings represent the beginning of a sustained terrorist campaign against the United States and its allies. Forty-one percent anticipate a sustained campaign, but 50% do not. By contrast, right after the 9/11 attacks in the United States, 55% of Americans thought the terrorist acts marked the beginning of a sustained campaign, and only 29% disagreed.

Do you think today's attacks do -- or do not -- represent the beginning of a sustained terrorist campaign against the United States and its allies that will continue for the next several weeks?

Yes, represent

No, do not

No opinion

2005 Jul 7

41%

50

9

Trend for Comparison: (Sept. 11) Do you think today's attacks do -- or do not -- represent the beginning of a sustained terrorist campaign against the United States that will continue for the next several weeks?

Yes, represent

No, do not

No opinion

2001 Sep 11

55%

29

16

A majority of Americans, 56%, agree with the suggestion that the terrorists targeted London because of Britain's support for the United States in Iraq, while 37% say there were other reasons.

Just your best guess, do you think the terrorists attacked London today mostly because Great Britain supports the United States in the war in Iraq, or mostly for other reasons?

Mostly because
Great Britain
supports the U.S.


Mostly for
other reasons


No
opinion

2005 Jul 7

56%

37

7

In the wake of the news reports about the terrorist attacks on the London mass transit system, there have been suggestions that the United States should require that every person go through a metal detector screening system before boarding a train, bus, or subway. Interviews Thursday with transportation and security experts, however, indicated that such requirements would be difficult to implement. While individual screening may be required for airlines, the experts suggested it would be impracticable, if not impossible, to institute that type of screening for everyday use in all the cities and towns in the United States.

Nevertheless, more than two-thirds of Americans interviewed Thursday night say they would favor such an action, while only 29% would be opposed.

Would you favor or oppose requiring every American to go through a metal detector when using public transportation, including trains, buses, or subways?

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2005 Jul 7

69%

29

2

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 624 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted July 7, 2005. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

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