Americans agree that international terrorism represents the greatest threat to the vital interest of the United States. Results from the 2016 Chicago Council Survey, conducted June 10-27, reveals that Americans are more fearful of the threat of terrorism today than was registered in the 2015 Council Survey, yet partisan divides emerge as to how best challenge this threat.
Threats to the vital interest of the United States: Exactly three-quarters of Americans cite international terrorism as the most critical threat, and it is viewed as the top threat for both self-identified Republicans (83%) and Democrats (74%). Although the overall perceived threat of Islamic fundamentalism has seen a meager increase of four percentage points (55% to 59%) from the 2015 Council Survey, the partisan divide has widened. Currently half of Democrats and three in four Republicans (the highest ever recorded, compare this to 70% in 2002) say Islamic fundamentalism is a critical threat.
Americans fearful of terror attacks: Nine out of ten Americans believe it at least somewhat likely (48% very likely; 41% somewhat) that occasional acts of terrorism will be a part of life in the future. Republicans are particularly fearful with half (53%) suggesting the U.S. is less safe today than prior to September 11, 2001 (compared to just 34% of Democrats).
Means of combating terrorism: Majorities (78% overall; 82% Republican; 78% Democrat) believe blocking terrorist financing is the most effective mean of combating terrorism. However, two partisan differences coincide with the two presidential candidate’s views as to how best to counter terrorism. Firstly, there is disagreement on the effectiveness of limiting the flow of migrants and refugees and increasing border security (57% overall cite this as effective; 79% Republican; 44% Democrat). Secondly, of the seven response options, torture was the only action not believed to be effective by a majority, yet 64 percent of Republicans believe it so (33% Democrat).
Read more in the full brief, and stay tuned for further results from the 2016 Chicago Council Survey.