Poll: Americans Resigned To Terror

USA map alarm terror alert target CBS/AP

As the third anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks approaches, Americans are resigned to the thought that living with terrorist threats in the U.S. will simply be part of being an American. In a CBS News Poll conducted this week, seven in ten Americans say Americans will always have to live with the threat of terrorism in the U.S. Just a quarter thinks the U.S. can someday eliminate the threat of terrorism.

WILL AMERICANS ALWAYS HAVE TO LIVE WITH THE THREAT OF TERRORISM?

Yes
71%
No, threat can be eliminated
25%

About two in five Americans agree with President Bush's statement at the Republican National Convention last week that the U.S.' strategy in the war against terror is succeeding, but nearly as many say neither side is winning the war, and 14 percent think the terrorists are winning. Those numbers are similar to those in July, and fewer now think the U.S. and its allies are winning the war on terror than did last December.

WINNING THE WAR ON TERROR

U.S. and allies
Now
41%
7/2004
37%
12/2003
52%

Terrorists
Now
14%
7/2004
18%
12/2003
9%

Neither side
Now
38%
7/2004
38%
Neither side
33%

There are partisan differences on this question. More than two-thirds of Republicans say the U.S. and its allies are winning, while Democrats and Independents are more likely to say neither side is.

For many Americans, the war on terror is directly tied to the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden, the man believed to be behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Just over half say the U.S. cannot win the war on terror if bin Laden is not caught or killed, while just over a third think the U.S. can still win.

CAN U.S. WIN THE WAR ON TERROR IF BIN LADEN IS NOT CAPTURED OR KILLED?

Can win
All
36%
Rep.
50%
Dem.
29%
Ind.
29%
Men
43%
Women
29%

Cannot win
All
51%
Rep.
36%
Dem.
60%
Ind.
57%
Men
46%
Women
56%

Majorities of women, Democrats and Independents say the U.S. must capture or kill Osama bin Laden to win the war on terror. Half of Republicans think the U.S. can win the war on terror even if bin Laden is never captured or killed; men are more evenly divided.

President Bush received a 62 percent approval rating in this poll for his handling of terrorism, a nine-point jump since August. Bush's rating on his handling of the campaign against terrorism correlates with assessments of who's winning the war on terror. Nine in ten of those who think the U.S. is winning the war on terror approve of Bush's handling of terrorism; those who think neither side is winning are evenly split, and six in ten of those who think the terrorists are winning disapprove of the President's handling of the war on terror.



This poll was conducted among a nation-wide random sample of 1,058 adults interviewed by telephone September 6-8, 2004. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on all adults and all registered voters.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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