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Only 29% of Americans Say U.S. Is Winning War on Terrorism

by Joseph Carroll

Lowest percentage recorded to date

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The latest Gallup Poll finds fewer than 3 in 10 Americans saying the United States is winning the war on terrorism, the lowest percentage holding this view since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But, Americans do not believe the terrorists are winning the war, either; rather, half the public indicate that neither side is winning. Most Americans consider the war in Afghanistan to be part of the war on terrorism, but more than half reject the notion that the war in Iraq is. The public's concerns about being a victim of terrorism have been quite steady over the past two years, and views that there terrorist attacks in the country are imminent are at their lowest point in two years.

Winning the War on Terrorism

The June 11-14, 2007, poll updated Gallup's trend question that asks Americans if the United States and its allies, the terrorists, or neither side is "currently winning the war against terrorism." 

The results show that 29% of Americans say the United States is winning, while 20% say the terrorists are winning and 50% say neither side. Americans are the most pessimistic about the U.S. efforts in the global war on terror now than at any other point since Gallup first asked this question in October 2001, with the 29% saying the United States is winning a new low and the 20% who say the terrorists are winning nearing the previous high. This is also the first time that half of Americans see the war as a stalemate.

Americans were most optimistic about the country's progress in the war on terrorism shortly after the United States took military action against the Taliban government in Afghanistan, with a high of 66% of Americans who thought the United States was winning in January 2002. Americans' assessments about the country's terrorism efforts grew more negative as the White House pressed its case for an invasion of Iraq in 2002 and early 2003. Opinions shifted in a more positive direction about a month after the United States invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein's regime. But as the Iraq war has dragged on, the public's pessimism has grown and the percentage saying the United States is winning has been gradually declining.

Military Actions in Afghanistan, Iraq Part of the War on Terrorism?

The poll also asked Americans if they consider the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to be "part of the war on terrorism," or an "entirely separate military action." Nearly two in three Americans (65%) consider the war in Afghanistan to be part of the war on terrorism, while 32% consider it a separate action. Americans are much less likely to consider the war in Iraq to be part of the war on terrorism -- only 43% agree that it is, while a majority, 53%, says it is a separate military action.

The majority view in the pre-war and early war stages reflected the Bush administration's position that military action in Iraq was another piece of the war on terrorism. At least half of Americans said they consider the war in Iraq to be part of the war on terrorism from September 2002 through October 2004. In June 2005, for the first time, Gallup found the public disagreeing with the administration's position, and continuing to do so throughout 2005 and early 2006. Then, in the fall of 2006, shortly after the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Americans' views on the Iraq war were once again divided. But that shift proved to be temporary given the latest results.

Terrorism Worries

There has been little change in the public's concerns about being a victim of terrorism in the past two years, and public expectations that there will be terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks are lower now than at any other point over the past two years.

Forty-four percent of Americans say they are "very" (12%) or "somewhat" (32%) worried that they or someone in their family will become a victim of terrorism. The level of worry has fluctuated between 41% and 47% over the past two years. From a longer-term perspective, public concerns about terrorism were highest in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, when concern levels reached as high as 59%.

When asked about the likelihood of a terrorist attack happening in the United States in the next few weeks, 40% of Americans say this is "very" (9%) or "somewhat" (31%) likely to occur. These perceptions are much lower now than they were last August, when half of Americans said an attack was likely. In fact, this is the lowest percentage saying attacks were likely since June 2005, when 35% did, which is the lowest percentage measured to date. At its highpoint, about a month after 9/11 and during the anthrax incidents, 85% of Americans said another terrorist attack was likely to happen.

Partisan Views of Terrorism

Republicans and Democrats differ in their overall views of who is winning the war on terrorism, if the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are part of the war on terrorism, and their overall concerns about terrorism. The two party groups do not differ in their views about the likelihood of an attack happening in the United States in the coming weeks, with roughly 4 in 10 Republicans and Democrats saying it is at least somewhat likely.

  • Fifty-three percent of Republicans say the United States is winning the war on terrorism, much higher than the 26% among independents and 12% among Democrats.
  • A majority of Republicans, independents, and Democrats say the war in Afghanistan is part of the war on terrorism, but Republicans (81%) are much more likely than independents (58%) or Democrats (59%) to hold this point of view.
  • Partisans are divided most on whether the war in Iraq is part of the war on terrorism. Nearly three in four Republicans (73%) say it is, compared with 29% of Democrats. Sixty-six percent of Democrats consider the war to be a separate military action. Independents' responses are similar to those of Democrats.
  • Republicans (53%) are also more likely than Democrats (43%) or independents (39%) to say they are very or somewhat worried about becoming a victim of terrorism.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,007 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 11-14, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

31. How worried are you that you or someone in your family will become a victim of terrorism -- very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not worried at all?


Very wor-
ried

Some-
what wor-
ried


Not too wor-
ried

Not
wor-
ried
at all

Know a victim (vol.)


No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2007 Jun 11-14

12

32

33

22

*

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Aug 18-20

11

34

34

21

*

*

2006 Jan 20-22 ^

14

29

34

23

--

1

2005 Dec 16-18

11

30

37

22

--

*

2005 Jul 22-24

14

33

30

23

*

*

2005 Jun 16-19

8

30

36

26

*

*

2005 Jan 7-9

10

28

37

24

*

1

2004 Dec 17-19

13

28

34

25

*

*

2004 Oct 14-16

13

34

33

20

*

*

2004 Sep 3-5 ^

11

32

36

21

--

*

2004 Aug 9-11 ^

8

26

36

30

--

*

2004 Feb 9-12

10

30

36

24

*

*

2004 Jan 2-5

5

23

42

30

*

*

2003 Dec 5-7

9

28

38

25

*

*

2003 Aug 25-26

11

30

33

26

*

--

2003 Jul 18-20 ^

6

24

38

32

*

*

2003 Apr 22-23 ^

8

26

39

26

*

1

2003 Mar 22-23

8

30

38

24

--

*

2003 Feb 17-19

8

28

33

31

*

--

2003 Feb 7-9 ^

13

35

34

18

*

*

2003 Jan 23-25

8

31

36

25

--

*

2002 Sep 2-4

8

30

37

25

*

*

2002 May 28-29

9

31

37

22

1

*

2002 Apr 22-24

8

27

39

25

1

*

2002 Mar 4-7

12

33

32

23

*

*

2002 Feb 4-6 ^

8

27

39

25

--

1

2001 Nov 26-27

8

27

34

30

1

*

2001 Nov 2-4

11

28

34

26

--

1

2001 Oct 19-21 †

13

30

33

23

*

1

2001 Oct 11-14 †

18

33

35

14

*

*

2001 Oct 5-6 †

24

35

27

14

*

*

2001 Sep 21-22 †

14

35

32

18

*

1

2001 Sep 14-15 †

18

33

35

13

*

1

2001 Sep 11 † ‡

23

35

24

16

1

1

2000 Apr 7-9 ^

4

20

41

34

--

1

1998 Aug 20 ‡ ?

10

22

38

29

--

1

1996 Jul 20-21 ‡

13

26

34

27

--

*

1996 Apr 9-10 ?

13

22

33

32

--

*

1995 Apr 21-23 ?

14

28

33

24

--

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

^ Asked of a half sample.

† Wording: How worried are you that you or someone in your family will become a victim of a terrorist attack -- very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not worried at all?

‡ Based on one night poll of national adults with a margin of error of ±4 pct. pts.

? Wording: How worried are you that someone in your family will become a victim of a terrorist attack similar to the bombing in Oklahoma City?

? Wording: How worried are you that you or someone in your family will become a victim of a terrorist attack similar to the bombing in Oklahoma City?

32. How likely is it that there will be further acts of terrorism in the United States over the next several weeks -- very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

                       

Very
likely

Some-
what likely

Not too
likely

Not at all likely

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2007 Jun 11-14

9

31

41

16

2

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Aug 18-20

9

41

38

10

2

2006 Jul 21-23

10

36

42

10

2

2006 Jan 20-22 ^

14

35

38

11

2

2005 Jul 22-24

12

45

32

10

1

2005 Jul 7-10

12

43

35

9

1

2005 Jun 16-19

4

31

45

18

2

2005 Jan 7-9 ^

8

31

44

15

2

2004 Dec 17-19 ^

10

38

39

12

1

2004 Jul 19-21 ^

12

39

34

11

4

2004 Jan 9-11 ^

7

39

36

16

2

2003 Aug 25-26 ^

10

44

35

10

1

2003 Jul 18-20 ^

7

33

41

16

3

2003 May 19-21

12

45

32

8

3

2003 Mar 22-23

21

52

20

6

1

2003 Feb 7-9 ^

16

50

23

9

2

2002 Sep 13-16 ^

12

44

31

10

3

2002 Sep 2-4

12

48

28

9

3

2002 Jul 5-8 ^

15

41

30

12

2

2002 May 20-22 ^

21

44

25

7

3

2002 Mar 8-9 ^

9

43

32

13

3

2001 Dec 14-16 ^

17

45

27

8

3

2001 Nov 2-4 ^

24

50

16

6

4

2001 Oct 19-21 ^

40

45

10

3

2

2001 Oct 7 † ‡

41

42

9

4

4

2001 Sep 21-22 ‡

22

44

24

8

2

 

 

 

 

 

^ Asked of a half sample.

† Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

‡ Wording: How likely is it that there will be further terrorist attacks in the United States over the next several weeks -- very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

33. Who do you think is currently winning the war against terrorism -- [ROTATED: the U.S. and its allies, neither side, or the terrorists]?

U.S.
and
its allies

Neither
side

The
terrorists

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2007 Jun 11-14

29

50

20

2

 

 

 

 

2006 Aug 18-20

35

44

18

3

2006 Jun 9-11

38

41

16

4

2006 Jan 20-22

41

42

14

3

2005 Aug 28-30 ^

34

42

23

1

2005 Jul 7-10

34

44

21

1

2005 Jun 24-26

36

41

20

3

2005 Jan 7-9

37

42

20

1

2004 Oct 9-10 ^

38

41

19

2

2004 Jul 19-21 ^

40

41

16

3

2004 Jan 12-15 ^       

51

35

14

*

2003 Oct 10-12

42

42

13

3

2003 Jul 18-20

48

34

15

3

2003 May 19-21

54

32

11

3

2003 Apr 22-23

65

28

5

2

2003 Mar 3-5 ^

37

43

17

3

2003 Jan 31-Feb 2 ^

35

44

16

5

2002 Dec 5-8 ^

33

46

19

2

2002 Oct 14-17 ^

32

44

21

3

2002 Aug 5-8 ^

37

46

14

3

2002 Jul 5-8

39

43

16

2

2002 Jun 21-23

33

49

14

4

2002 May 28-29

41

35

15

9

2002 Apr 22-24

47

39

10

4

2002 Mar 22-24

51

35

12

2

2002 Mar 4-7

53

34

10

3

2002 Jan 7-9 ^

66

25

7

2

2001 Dec 6-9

64

28

5

3

2001 Nov 8-11 ^

53

33

11

3

2001 Oct 11-14

42

44

11

3

 

 

 

 

^ Asked of a half sample.

34. Do you consider -- [ITEMS ROTATED] -- to be part of the war on terrorism which began on September 11, 2001, or do you consider it to be an entirely separate military action?

A.     The war in Iraq

           

Part of
war
on terrorism

Separate
military
action

No
opinion

 

 

 

2007 Jun 11-14

43%

53

3



  Trends for Comparison:
(Asked as a stand alone question)-- Do you consider the war in Iraq to be part of the war on terrorism which began on September 11, 2001, or do you consider it to be an entirely separate military action?

           

Part of
war
on terrorism

Separate
military
action

No
opinion

%

%

%

2006 Sep 15-17

48

49

3

2006 Mar 10-12 ^

44

53

3

2005 Dec 16-18

43

55

2

2005 Jun 24-26 ^

47

50

3

2004 Oct 1-3

50

47

3

2004 Jul 19-21 ^

51

47

2

2004 Mar 26-28

50

48

2

2003 Aug 25-26

57

41

2

 

 

 

^ Asked of a half sample.



  If the United States goes to war with Iraq, would you consider that to be part of the war on terrorism which began on September 11 th, or would you consider it to be an entirely separate military action?

           

Part of
war
on terrorism

Separate
military
action

No
opinion

%

%

%

2003 Jan 23-25

50

48

2

2002 Sep 20-22

55

42

3



B.     The war in Afghanistan

           

Part of
war
on terrorism

Separate
military
action

No
opinion

2007 Jun 11-14

65%

32

3



Gallup


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/27955/Only-29-Americans-Say-US-Winning-War-Terrorism.aspx
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