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Poll: Obama Gets Mixed Marks on Terrorism

As the country marks the eight-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans are giving the Obama administration a mixed report card on the issue of terrorism, according to a CBS News poll.

A quarter of Americans thinks the policies of the Obama administration have made the U.S. safer from terrorism, though nearly as many – 23 percent - think they have made the country less safe. Forty-two percent think the Obama administration's policies have made no difference. These numbers are similar to what they were when CBS News last asked the question in April.

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Democrats are more inclined to think the policies of the Obama administration have made the country safer while Republicans are more likely to say they have made the country less safe, though a large number of both groups – as well as 44 percent of independents – think they have made no difference.

The poll also finds that most Americans – six in 10 – do not think a terrorist attack is likely within the next few months, the same proportion as in January. One in four thinks a terrorist attack is somewhat likely, but only seven percent think one is very likely. Concern about an imminent terrorist attack has dropped steadily since the weeks right after 9/11, when a majority of Americans thought another terrorist attack was very likely.

Now 1/2009 9/2007 8/2003 10/2001
Very 7% 5% 9% 15% 53%
Somewhat 25% 29% 39% 49% 35%
Not very/at all 62% 63% 48% 33% 10%

If an attack were to occur, Americans are divided as to whether or not the United States is adequately prepared to deal with another terrorist attack – though more think it is than is not. These numbers are not much different from what they were a year ago.

Now 9/2008 9/2007 8/2006 3/2003
Yes 50% 52% 39% 49% 64%
No 44% 39% 56% 44% 29%

Read the Complete Poll Poll Database

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1097 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone August 27-31, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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