Politics

Worry About Terror Attacks in U.S. High, but Not Top Concern

Worry About Terror Attacks in U.S. High, but Not Top Concern
by Justin McCarthy

Story Highlights

  • Before Brussels, 48% worried "a great deal" about future attacks
  • Percent worried "a great deal" similar to 2015, up from 2004-2014
  • Americans more concerned about healthcare, the economy and crime

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Before the terrorist attacks Tuesday that killed at least 30 in Brussels, 48% of Americans worried "a great deal" about the possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S. While this percentage is higher than in most years since 2004, a possible terrorist attack was not Americans' top concern. More Americans expressed "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of worry about domestic problems such as healthcare, the economy and crime than about terrorism among a list of 13 different issues.

Americans' Concerns for Problems Facing the U.S.
Next, I'm going to read a list of problems facing the country. For each one, please tell me if you personally worry about this problem a great deal, a fair amount, only a little or not at all? First, how much do you personally worry about -- ?
Great deal% Fair amount% Only a little/Not at all%
The availability and affordability of healthcare 55 27 17
The economy 55 28 18
Crime and violence 53 26 22
The possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S. 48 23 29
Hunger and homelessness 47 29 24
The Social Security system 46 25 28
Drug use 44 23 33
The quality of the environment 42 31 26
Unemployment 39 29 31
Illegal immigration 37 23 39
Race relations 35 27 37
Climate change 33 27 40
The availability and affordability of energy 27 34 38
March 2-6, 2016
Gallup Poll Social Series: Environment

Worries about terrorism generally take a back seat to at least a few domestic problems, but concerns about the issue increased in 2002 and 2003 after 9/11.

The latest attacks, which took place at an airport and metro station in Brussels, could affect Americans' level of concern about terrorism. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, terrorism climbed to the top of Americans' list of the most important problems facing the U.S. in December. But by early March, mentions of terrorism declined significantly.

Before the attacks in Brussels, Americans already reported a heightened state of worry because of the increasing worldwide threat of terrorism, in particular from the Islamic State group, which has already claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attacks. Both last year and in Gallup's latest poll, conducted March 2-6, about half of Americans say they have "a great deal" of worry about another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, up from percentages mostly around or less than 40% in the previous 11 years.

TerrorismConcerns2

Gallup's longer-term trend on terrorism concerns, first asked in 1995 and last updated in December, also found about half of Americans saying they are "very" or "somewhat" worried about personally becoming a victim of terrorism. And a January poll also found a decrease in Americans' satisfaction with the nation's security from terrorism.

Worries About Future Terrorist Attacks Higher Among Seniors, Republicans

Older Americans appear to worry more than younger Americans about potential terrorist attacks in the U.S. Less than half of Americans under the age of 50 say they worry "a great deal" about the issue. Meanwhile, about half of those between the ages of 50 and 64 (49%) and the majority of seniors aged 65 and older (58%) report worrying "a great deal."

Concern about possible terrorist attacks also differs by party. Republicans (64%) are much more likely than Democrats (36%) to say they worry "a great deal" about the possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S. About half of independents (48%) share this degree of worry on the issue.

Americans' Concerns About the Possibility of Future Terrorist Attacks in the U.S., by Party ID and Age
Next, I'm going to read a list of problems facing the country. For each one, please tell me if you personally worry about this problem a great deal, a fair amount, only a little or not at all? How much do you personally worry about the possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S.?
Great deal%
Republicans 64
Independents 48
Democrats 36
18 to 29 42
30 to 49 46
50 to 64 49
65+ 58
March 2-6, 2016
Gallup Poll Social Series: Environment

Bottom Line

Because Gallup has found an increase in Americans' worries about terrorism in the aftermath of past high-profile attacks, worry might increase after the attacks in Brussels, at least in the short term. Even before the latest attacks occurred, the level of concern was relatively high by post-9/11 standards. However, Americans are overall more likely to voice concern about pressing domestic matters such as the economy and healthcare.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 2-6, 2016, with a random sample of 1,019 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/190253/worry-terror-attacks-high-not-top-concern.aspx
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