A majority of Americans are worrying more about terrorism and are blaming President Barack Obama for their heightened sense of danger, Democratic pollster Patrick Caddell said after analyzing the results of the latest Breitbart/Gravis National Security poll.
Respondents were asked about the new normal in the poll, which was conducted Sept. 20 with of 1,503 registered voters. “Do you agree or disagree that the incidents of domestic terrorism we are experiencing this week in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota are the new normal and we are going to have to accept that,” they were asked.
Sixty-five percent of Americans disagree that these incidents represent a new normal which they must accept; 47 percent disagreed strongly, while 30 percent agreed. Only 7 percent agreed strongly.
“That question on the new normal–that Americans should just accept it–the answer is very simple: We will not,” said Caddell. “We are not Europeans.”
The next question in the poll asked if the Obama administration was reluctant to take action to stop and defeat these attacks.
Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they agreed; 51 percent strongly agreed that these attacks could have been avoided if the president was not reluctant to act, compared with 37 percent saying the Obama could not have prevented the attacks.
Caddell said the 20-percentage point margin in that question tells him that Americans have a much looser bond with the president than is reflected in his straight popularity polls.
The Republicans have been derelict in their duty to tie Obama to his own policies, he continued, especially policies and decisions that relate to his most important tasks as president and allowed him a free ride.
Broken down by party, 82 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of Independents, and 28 percent of Democrats strongly agree that the administration could have stopped the attacks, if not for its reluctance to take steps against these domestic terrorist attacks.
Broken down by ethnic group, 62 percent of whites and 54 percent of Hispanics strongly agree that the Obama administration was reluctant. However, 51 percent of Asian-Americans and 46 percent of African-Americans strongly disagreed.
The poll’s national security questions cited policies held by Democratic nominee for president Hillary R. Clinton and her GOP rival Donald J. Trump. The poll was not intended to track the candidates’ support in the national race, which were measured in Breitbart/Gravis presidential poll released Friday, Sept. 23.
When asked “Has President Obama made the U.S. safer or less safe from domestic terrorism?”, 51 percent of Americans said the president has made the country less safe, with only 30 percent saying Obama has made them feel safer.
Caddell said, “There is no doubt that we are seeing people watch these incidents, one after the other, and it is having an impact–the reactions tend to be very strong and then it fades, but it also accumulates over time.”
Tapping into one of the controversies of this political cycle, respondents were asked whether it is insensitive to use the term “Islamic radical terrorism” because it tends to unfairly paint with a broad brush all Muslims — or whether we must identify Islamic radical terrorism for what it is because you cannot defeat something if you cannot talk about it.
Fifty-nine percent said it was better to identify Islamic radical terrorism, and 19 percent said it was insensitive.
Caddell said the 40-percentage point margin is pretty convincing, and if an observer took out the seven percent of respondents who said “Don’t Know” and the 15 percent who said “Neither,” the 59 percent choosing to identify Islamic radical terrorism is 75 percent of the committed opinion.
“That’s pretty decisive,” he said. “That tells me that the mainstream media and the elites are just so out-of-touch on this issue.”
Doug Kaplan, the managing partner of Gravis Marketing, the Florida-based polling firm that executed the poll, said, “Fifteen years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, terrorism is back on front burner as a major concern.” The poll carries a 2.5 percent margin of error with a 95 percent level of confidence.
“Politicians might want to ignore these concerns, but our poll shows that Americans are not ignoring the threat of terrorism and they do not accept it as part of the ‘new normal,'” he said.
The poll was conducted using automated phone calls with results weighted to reflect a proprietary turnout model.
On the subject of refugees, participants in the poll were asked if they supported Hillary Clinton’s plan to bring in more Syrian refugees or Donald Trump’s plan to restrict the number of Syrian refugees.
Thirty percent said they wanted to expand the number of refugees and 51 percent said they wanted to restrict.
Caddell said having 19 percent say they were unsure meant that the electorate has not engaged with the issue to the extent that the political and media classes have–and it also means that 63 percent of committed opinion is looking to restrict the number of Syrian refugees.
Once the refugee issue becomes the surrogate for taking about national security, the Democrats are in trouble again, he said.
The refugee issue, particularly when it comes to the vetting of who we are letting in, it has not gelled yet, but when it does gel, it will have the same impact as trade does, he said.
“Nobody talked about trade, it was never a big issue, but then it gelled and it became the surrogate for the economy and everything that has gone wrong in the economy,” he said.
In the next question, 59 percent said the number of refugees coming into the country was too much, 13 percent said there were too few, and 28 percent said the number was just about right.
One of the refugee questions in the poll was designed to gauge the extent of extreme opinion: “Immigrants and refugees should be required to express support for American value system such as freedom of religion and freedom of speech in order to enter the country.”
In this case, the Democratic pollster said he was surprised and not surprised by the 68 percent saying they were in agreement.
“Sixty-eight percent goes pretty-pretty far in showing where people are at right now–especially after we are seeing these attacks from people with recent immigrant backgrounds,” he said.
“The poll comes right after the bombings in New York City and New Jersey,” he said.
“But, again, we have 19 percent–one fifth–of the country that is unsure,” he said. “This is another example of an issue that Americans have not internalized yet, so that when they do, if they do really engage, it could be very decisive.”
On the matter of whether the U.S. should bring immigrants from countries that harbor terrorists, 29 percent said the U.S. should, while 55 percent said the U.S. should not–with 15 percent unsure.
One of Trump’s most discussed campaign pledges was his call for a temporary ban on Muslim migration to the United States. Asked if they agree or disagree, 45 percent of respondents said they agreed and 41 percent said they did not agree.
“Given the rest of the poll, I was kind of amazed that it was only a five-point difference,” Caddell said.
“Maybe it is telling us that things are more fluid situation? But, I believe that it will come around to line up with the other questions in the end,” he said.
It could also be the case that the Muslim ban is so closely associated with Trump that the question has become a surrogate for each of the candidates.
In the Sept. 20 Breitbart/Gravis poll, Clinton leads Trump with 44 percent of the support of likely voters compared to his 40 percent.