Americans Trust Hillary Clinton Over Donald Trump On Terrorism

Trump's popularity has risen with his anti-Muslim rhetoric, but polls favor Clinton in a crisis.
SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

Terrorist bombings in Brussels on Tuesday have once again elevated the issues of terrorism and foreign policy to Americans.

It's too early to tell where public opinion will land after the latest bombings, but polls conducted since the Paris attack in November have shown Americans considerably concerned about terrorism. Surveys also show Americans tend to trust Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton more than other presidential candidates to handle it.

For a brief period after the Paris attack, Americans named terrorism as the biggest problem in the U.S., topping the economy.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was quick to take advantage of the concern -- and anti-Muslim sentiment, proposing to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country. The idea arguably boosted him in the polls.

Even so, an ABC/Washington Post poll conducted soon after that found Americans trusted Clinton more than any other presidential candidate to handle terrorism. Recent polls indicate that Americans continue to see Clinton as the most trusted candidate to handle the issue.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll in early March forced respondents to pick between the two presidential front-runners on who they think is best able to handle an international crisis and terrorism. Americans chose Clinton over Trump by a 29-point margin (61 percent to 32 percent) for an international crisis, and picked Clinton by a 14-point margin as the best to handle terrorism.

Results were a bit murkier when Americans were asked to choose from the entire field of presidential candidates. A CNN/ORC poll released in early March that asked Americans to choose who they trusted most among all presidential candidates to handle select issues put Clinton on top for foreign policy with 37 percent, followed by 21 percent who picked Trump. On the issue of terrorism, American trusted Trump slightly more than Clinton, 33 percent to 30 percent -- within the poll's margin of error.

According to exit polls from primary states that have already voted, Republicans placed the most faith -- an average of 32 percent -- in Trump to handle an international crisis. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) was next, with an average of 26 percent.

Democrats were more likely to trust Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to handle an international crisis. When voters were asked if they trust Clinton to handle an international crisis, an average of nearly 80 percent said yes. An average of 53 percent said the same of Sanders.

An ABC/Washington Post poll conducted in late January found that Democrats were more than twice as likely to trust Clinton over Sanders on terrorism and in an international crisis.

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