By Jake Lahut
Seventy percent of Americans feel assured of the government’s ability to protect against terrorism, a new Gallup poll released Monday found, a boost in public confidence since the last time the question was asked after the December 2015 attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
The poll of 1,009 adults, conducted between June 7-11, is Gallup’s first measurement of public trust in government counter-terrorism efforts since President Donald Trump took office. It shows a substantial recovery in confidence since the San Bernardino attack, when 55 percent of Americans said they felt a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence the government could protect its citizens from future acts of terrorism.
The highest Gallup measurement of public confidence came after the poll’s inception shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, when 88 percent of respondents said they felt confident in the government’s national security efforts. The poll released Monday has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, Gallup said.
Public anxiety over becoming a terrorism victim has also receded since 2015, when 51 percent said they were “very” or “somewhat worried,” to 42 percent in the new poll. Prior to 2015, the only time public fear in an attack had been higher was immediately after 9/11 at 59 percent.
Despite a drop in fear over an attack personally affecting them, six in 10 Americans believe it is “very” or “somewhat likely” that an attack will hit U.S. soil in the next few weeks. But that, too, shows a drop from right after the San Bernardino attack, when 14 people were killed, when about 67 percent of Americans believed an attack on the homeland was imminent.
Gallup said Americans’ terrorism fears tend to flare up after highly publicized incidents. It also noted that Trump campaigned on tough measures to protect Americans and said his highest approval ratings are for his handling of terrorism.