POLITICS

Americans Are Divided On The Best Way To Keep The Country Safe

Concerns about terrorism have risen over the past few years.
A view of One World Trade Center from the North Pool, which marks the former site of the North Tower of the World Trade Cente
A view of One World Trade Center from the North Pool, which marks the former site of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, at Ground Zero the night before the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, Americans are close to evenly divided on whether it’s better for the U.S. to actively confront terrorism or to take a more isolationist approach, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds.

A 53 percent majority says that, in the long run, the United States will be safer if it confronts the countries and groups that promote terrorism. Forty-seven percent say the United States will be safer from terrorism if it stays out of other countries’ affairs.

The results mark a shift since 2013, when an Economist/YouGov poll found that 61 percent of Americans favored staying out of other countries’ affairs, with just 39 percent advocating taking action against countries and groups promoting terrorism. While Democrats and independents have both moved toward the latter position since then, the biggest move was among Republicans. Seventy-six percent of Republicans now say the U.S. should intervene against those countries and groups, up 21 points in the past three years.

Americans also report feeling somewhat less safe than they did in 2013. Thirty percent of Americans say we’re now safer from terrorist attacks than we were in 2001, while 29 percent say we’re about equally safe and 32 percent that we’re less safe. Three years ago, 40 percent of Americans said safety had increased since the attacks, and just 18 percent said the country was less safe than it was on 9/11.

A recent Pew Research survey also found rising concerns about terrorism, with the change mostly driven by Republicans.

Coupled with those increased fears is a decreased resistance to security measures. In the 2013 Economist/YouGov poll, 32 percent of Americans said that security and surveillance measures went too far in restricting civil liberties, with 41 percent saying they were about right, and 14 percent that such measures didn’t go far enough. In the most recent poll, just 17 percent of Americans say such measures go too far, while 49 percent say they’re about right, and 23 percent say they don’t go far enough.

Other metrics have seen less change.

The 27 percent of Americans who say the Obama administration’s policies have made the U.S. more safe, the 38 percent who say they’ve made the country less safe, and the 22 percent who say they haven’t had much effect are similar to the 26 percent, 33 percent and 22 percent, respectively, who said so in the previous survey, with answers remaining divided along partisan lines.

A relatively stable 36 percent of Americans say the U.S. has recovered from the terrorist attacks, while 32 percent say it has yet to recover, and 20 percent don’t believe that it ever will. Just 14 percent believe that people focus too much on the memory of 9/11. Fifty-one percent believe the attacks are commemorated about the right amount, while 27 percent would like to see more attention paid to them.

Young Americans are the most likely to say there’s too much focus on 9/11 ― 23 percent of those under 30, compared to just 8 percent over age 65, say people put too much of a spotlight on the attacks.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Sept. 8-Sept. 9 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls.You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

HuffPost

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