Poll: Terrorism Beats Economy as Top Concern for First Time in a Decade

9-11 Twin Towers ReutersSean Adair
Reuters/Sean Adair

For the first time since 2006, terrorism ranks higher than the economy as a concern for voters, according to a new CBS News poll.

Terrorism was the top concern for 14 percent of voters in the poll, while the economy was number one for 12 percent.

Even more dramatically, 44 percent of Americans thought another terrorist attack within the next few months is very likely.  CBS notes that represents a 16 point increase from two weeks ago–i.e. a result of the San Bernardino terrorist attack–and the highest concern level they have recorded since 9/11.  Poll respondents thought such an attack was more likely to come from people already living in the United States than overseas terrorist operatives.

The threat of a terror attack was ranked far higher than fears of a random mass shooting, with only 23 percent saying they were “very concerned” about the possibility.

The poll found ISIS was a specific source of anxiety, with 70 percent of Americans considering what Barack Obama famously dismissed as the “jayvee team” of terrorism a major threat to the United States… and 71 percent saying the battle against the Islamic State is going badly.

These are red-alert crisis numbers for Democrats going into the 2016 election.  Conversely, a CBS poll conducted with the New York Times this morning cited mounting concerns about terrorism as one reason for Donald Trump’s commanding lead in the Republican primary.

President Obama’s approval rating for handling terrorism hit a new all-time low of 34 percent, with a record high of 57 percent disapproval.  CBS notes the poll was in progress when the President gave his Sunday-night prime-time address on terrorism. It will be interesting to learn if that address helps or hinders his approval numbers, as the address was not generally well-received.

Another catastrophic result for Democrats: the public clearly is not buying their gun control message.  The number of Americans in favor of stricter gun control laws is down since October, from 58 to 51 percent.  Poll respondents now oppose an “assault weapons ban” – possibly one of the most absurdly biased questions in the history of polling – by a margin of 50 to 44 percent, which CBS says is the first time since 1994 support for such a measure has been underwater.

The resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States produced a roughly even split in opinion overall, with about two-thirds of Democrats in favor, and three-quarters of Republicans opposed.


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