Poll: More Concerned About Terror

President Bush gives a thumbs up to the elections in Afghanistan as he speaks to supporters in St. Louis, the morning after his second debate with his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2004. He also affirmed the reelection of Iraq War ally, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) AP

Last week's bombings in London have brought at least some Americans' attention back to the issue of terrorism-- more than twice as many now say terrorism is the most important problem facing the U.S. than did so last month. 15 percent volunteer terrorism as the most important issue, compared to just 6 percent last month.

But terrorism is still not the top issue for Americans -- the war in Iraq is still seen as the top problem, followed by terrorism and then the economy and jobs.

MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEM

Iraq
Now
22%
6/2005
19%

Terrorism
Now
15%
6/2005
6%

Economy/jobs
Now
13%
6/2005
18%

Education
Now
5%
6/2005
3%

Many Americans are unconvinced the war in Iraq has reduced the threat of terrorism for the U.S. -- in fact, most even think it has increased, not decreased the number of terrorists who are planning to strike. And while most think the U.S. government has done all it could to make air travel safer, most also say there is more work needed to improve security on trains and transit systems, and to improve the safety of the nation overall.

The London bombings, however, have not had much of an impact on President George W. Bush's approval ratings. 45 percent approve of the way the President is handling his job -- three points higher than his June rating, which was close to the lowest rating ever found in this poll.

FEARS OF A TERROR ATTACK

Two-thirds now say a terrorist attack against the U.S. in the coming months is likely (including one in five who thinks it is very likely.) Feelings were similar last fall before the election. Last July, shortly after the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about possible terrorist attacks, even more Americans (71 percent) thought an attack was likely.


LIKELIHOOD OF TERROR ATTACK IN U.S. IN NEXT FEW MONTHS

Likely
Now
65%
9/2004
66%
7/2004
71%

Not likely
Now
32%
9/2004
31%
7/2004
27%

Women are more likely than men to say another attack is likely, and Americans age 45 and over are more apt than younger Americans to say one is likely to happen.

However, fewer than one in four is very concerned about such an attack in the area where they themselves live. 77 percent are not very concerned. Those who live in the Northeast are most likely to say they are concerned about attacks in their own community; Westerners and those in the Midwest are least concerned. Perhaps not surprisingly, those living in large cities are more likely to be concerned than those in rural areas.

CONCERNED ABOUT TERRORIST ATTACK IN YOUR AREA

Total
21%
Northeast
29%
Midwest
17%
South
22%
West
16%

And while British authorities search for all those involved in the London bombings, nearly all Americans -- 94 percent - think there are terrorists already living inside the U.S. planning to launch future attacks in America.

ARE THERE TERRORISTS INSIDE THE U.S. PLANNING FUTURE ATTACKS?

Yes
94%
No
3%

IRAQ AND TERROR

Despite the Bush Administration's arguments that Iraq has become a central front in the war on terror, most Americans fear U.S. involvement in Iraq is actually creating more terrorists who are planning to strike the U.S., not eliminating them. Fewer than one in five thinks it is reducing their number.

IS U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN IRAQ…?

Creating more terrorists
52%
Eliminating terrorists
17%
Not changing number of terrorists
22%

And 44 percent say the war has increased the overall threat of terrorism against the United States, more than thought so in January, but fewer than thought so last June.

HOW HAS IRAQ WAR CHANGED TERROR THREAT TO U.S.?

Increased it
Now
44%
1/2005
33%
6/2004
47%

Kept it same
Now
42%
1/2005
47%
6/2004
38%

Decreased it
Now
13%
1/2005
19%
6/2004
13%

Americans continue to divide on whether Iraq is part of the war on terror at all. While more than a third of Americans do see Iraq as a major part of the broader war on terror, another nine percent see it as just a minor part -- and half think it is not part at all. These views are mostly unchanged from last fall, but very different from views during the first weeks of the war in April and May 2003, when most Americans saw the conflict as a major part of the campaign against terror.

IS IRAQ PART OF THE WAR ON TERROR?

Yes, major part
Now
37%
11/2004
34%
4/2003
53%

Yes, minor part
Now
9%
11/2004
9%
4/2003
13%

No, not part
Now
50%
11/2004
51%
4/2003
30%

43 percent say the Bush Administration has been too focused on Iraq and not enough on terrorists operating elsewhere. 44 percent say the Administration's balance has been about right.

BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S FOCUS HAS BEEN…

Too much on Iraq
43%
Too much on terrorists elsewhere
6%
About right
44%

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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