Poll: Americans Wary U.S. Ready For Attack

generic poll america US terror alert levelks homeland security iraq war september eleven
On the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Americans are split on whether another attack is likely, but they are increasingly unified in believing that, should the unthinkable happen, the government is not adequately prepared to handle it, a new CBS News/New York Times poll indicates.

Today, 48 percent of Americans believe another attack is likely in the next few months, up from 38 percent in July, just after reports of a failed terrorist bombing plot in London. While 48 percent also think an attack is at least somewhat likely, only 9 percent say such an event is "very likely" - matching a low mark last seen in August 2005.

While opinions about a future attack are uniform across the political spectrum, 54 percent of women said an attack was likely, compared to only 40 percent of men.

While Americans are split on the prospect of a future attack, they are increasingly pessimistic about the government's ability to respond. Fifty-six percent of respondents said the United States is not adequately prepared to deal with another attack, while 39 percent believe it is.

The percentage of Americans who believe the country is not prepared for another attack has steadily increased since the beginning of the Iraq war, when only 29 percent believed the country would be unable to handle an attack. Much of that shift appears due to declining confidence among Republicans: Last year, two-thirds of them thought the nation was prepared, compared to only half now. Independents have lost faith, too - only 32 percent of them believe the country is prepared today, compared to half in 2006.

Americans also remain split on whether President Bush's policies have made the country safer. Today, 49 percent believe the president's policies have helped keep terrorism at bay, while 26 percent feel the country is less safe - those numbers are essentially unchanged since August 2006. However, they represent a significant shift since the start of the Iraq war, when 60 percent of Americans believed the administration had made the country safer.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1263 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone September 4-9, 2007. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. An oversample of those with family members who are now serving in the U.S. armed forces or the U.S. reserves was also conducted for this poll, for a total of 349 interviews among this group. The results were then weighted in proportion to the composition of the adult population in the U.S. Census. The margin of error for military families is plus or minus 5 percentage points.