POLITICS

Hillary Clinton Is Most Trusted Candidate To Handle Terrorism, Poll Finds

Respondents ranked terrorism as one of the most important issues for 2016.

Terrorism trails only the economy as the most important issue in the presidential race, according to a new Washington Post and ABC News poll conducted after the attacks in Paris and some of the raids to round up suspects. 

Among all poll respondents, Hillary Clinton beat the leading Republican candidates as the potential presidential nominee most trusted to handle terrorism, but her lead melted against several Republicans when the poll was narrowed to registered voters. 

The poll, which reached 1,004 adults on land lines and cell phones from Nov. 16-19, revealed that Americans rank security among the most important issues, though there's a wide gulf between Republicans and Democrats. Twenty-eight percent of respondents overall said terrorism was the most important issue for them when considering how to vote in 2016, while 33 percent said the economy was their top issue.

Forty-two percent of Republicans and independents who say they lean toward the GOP picked terrorism as the most important issue for 2016. That beat out the economy, which was the most important issue for 29 percent of this group.

The result differs sharply from what Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party said. Of this group, just 18 percent said terrorism was most important to them, while 39 percent said the economy and 19 percent said health care.

The poll also asked respondents how Clinton compared to Republican presidential contenders Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush on the issue of terrorism. Previous ABC News and Washington Post polls on the 2016 election had not asked respondents about which candidate was more trustworthy to confront terrorism, so it's unclear whether the Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead, had an impact on public opinion. 

Americans overall had more trust in the leading Democratic candidate to handle terrorism than each of the five potential GOP nominees. Compared head-to-head with real estate mogul Trump, who said he'd consider closing mosques, Clinton led 50 percent to 42 percent. Compared to Carson, who's mangled debate questions about the Islamic State and the Middle East, Clinton scored 49 percent to 40 percent picking the retired neurosurgeon. Compared to Cruz, a conservative senator from Texas, Clinton scored 49 percent compared to 40 percent.

Against Rubio, Clinton, who recently gave a speech calling for more airstrikes against Islamic State targets, was more trusted by 47 percent of respondents, compared to 43 percent who picked the Florida senator. Bush, the former Florida governor, gave her the closest call among all responders, with 43 percent ranking him as more trustworthy and 46 percent picking Clinton.

But when pollsters tapped only registered voters, the results came back more favorably for Republicans. Trump did slightly better among this group, getting 43 percent while Clinton held steady at 50 percent. Carson grabbed 43 percent of registered voters, while Clinton slipped to 47 percent. 

When compared with Cruz, 46 percent of registered voters picked Clinton, while 44 percent picked Cruz. Rubio trailed 46 percent to 45 percent, but fell within the margin of error, meaning Rubio might actually hold the lead among this group.

Bush, who's called for sending an unspecified number of ground troops to fight Islamic State forces, actually held an edge over Clinton, with 46 percent of registered voters saying they trusted him, while 45 percent trusted her. 

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