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GOP better able to protect U.S. from terrorism than Democrats: Poll

By a margin of 55 to 32 percent, Americans believe the Republican Party is better able to protect the country from terrorism and international military threats than the Democratic Party, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday.

The GOP's 23-point advantage is as wide as it's been since Gallup began asking the question in 2002.

Republicans have traditionally enjoyed an advantage on national security issues in polling data, and in all but two years Gallup asked this question, the GOP came out on top. The exceptions were 2007, when Democrats were up 47 to 42 percent, and 2012, when the parties were tied at 45 percent each.

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Thursday's poll was released just hours after President Obama outlined a new strategy to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in a primetime address on Wednesday night. In his speech, he warned that ISIS, an extremist group that has swept across much of Syria and Iraq in recent months, is a danger to the region that could eventually threaten the U.S. He reassured Americans that those who target the homeland "will find no safe haven."

Gallup's Frank Newport said the strong Republican advantage in this year's poll is "most likely related to the increasing news coverage of ISIS," as well as the group's recent beheadings of two American journalists. He also blamed President Obama's much-criticized comment last week that "we don't have a strategy yet" to combat ISIS for eroding Democrats' standing.

A separate poll released Wednesday by Gallup found that a record-low 43 percent of Americans have confidence in the government's ability to handle global problems.

Thursday's poll also showed that Americans, by a margin of 49 to 40 percent, also trust the GOP more to keep the country prosperous in the future.

Add it all up, Newport said, and you've got a strong Republican advantage heading into November's midterm elections. "The historical pattern suggests that the GOP's current edge as the party better able to keep the country prosperous and safe from terrorism would translate into gains in the midterm elections -- if Americans' perceptions of the two parties stay pretty much as they are now over the next two months," he explained.

Gallup's poll, conducted between September 4-7, surveyed 1,017 American adults, and it carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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