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What surveys say about terrorism

What surveys say about terrorism

According to a recent Gallup survey, Americans believe terrorism is the most important issue facing the country. In light of recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, many have voiced concern over domestic security protocols and criticized the U.S. government for its measured response to foreign terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State, reported The New York Times. The nation's collective anxiety over terrorism grows with each travel warning and wire story, it seems. Public opinion polls on terrorism lend statistical structure to this trend. 

Widespread support for airstrikes, ground troop deployment
Almost 80 percent of Americans think airstrikes are the most effective weapon against foreign terrorist groups, reported Gallup. Respondents also widely supported a sweeping overhaul of the federal visa waiver program, bans on the sale of guns to individuals on the no-fly list and the deployment of special operations personnel to Iraq and Syria.

Over the last few months, the idea of direct U.S. military involvement in Syria has gained ground, reported Newsweek. And, according to a poll conducted by CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation, 53 percent of Americans now say the military should deploy troops to fight the Islamic State. An earlier Gallup poll conducted in November revealed that less than half of respondents supported troop deployment. Interestingly, 43 percent of Americans still believe the U.S military's last widespread anti-terrorism operation - the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, or Operation Enduring Freedom - was a mistake.

According to a survey of 900,000 veterans conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of Americans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq believe Operation Enduring Freedom was worthwhile.  

Confidence in current anti-terrorism efforts low
According to a recent Gallup survey, only 55 percent of Americans believe the federal government can protect them from terrorists. Over 51 percent of respondents said they were legitimately worried about dying in a terrorist attack. And, 67 percent believed another attack was imminent. Of course, many link their mistrust in the federal government to President Barack Obama's foreign policy. According to a recent CBS News poll, 66 percent of Americans do not think President Obama has a clear strategy for fighting terrorism.

Currently, nearly half of the country believes terrorists are winning their war against the West, reported CNN.

Terror fears drive the presidential race
Over the last 10 years, terrorism has been a key issue for voters, reported The Washington Post. Americans appreciated President George W. Bush's charisma in the wake of 9/11 and ultimately re-elected him to a second term in 2004. The assassination of Osama Bin Laden vaulted President Obama to victory in the 2012 presidential election.

Terrorism is also shaping the 2016 presidential race. According to a Wall Street Journal poll, national security and terrorism are now the primary concerns for 40 percent of prospective voters.

Fear has driven Americans to support candidates who champion extreme national security measures like the establishment of a nationwide monitoring system for American Muslims. According to Gallup, 32 percent would be in favor of such a program.  

It's also stoked widespread resistance to candidates who have checkered foreign policy records. Over 50 percent of Americans were disappointed with Hillary Clinton's handling of the 2012 terrorist attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, reported ABC News.    

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