In a major national security address in May, President Obama said it was time to take the United States off the war footing it has been on since the September 11 terrorist attacks -- and at one point stated, “This war, like all wars, must end.” The speech was widely seen as a signal Obama views the war on terrorism as winding down.
A Fox News national poll released Wednesday finds American voters disagree.
The poll was conducted in the wake of revelations that the government’s National Security Agency has been secretly collecting telephone and internet records of millions of Americans as part of a program to prevent future terrorist attacks.
Asked how they see the war on terrorism, 77 percent of voters say the war is ongoing and “should continue to be a top priority to the government.”
Far fewer -- 17 percent -- feel the war is over and should be a lower priority.
The majority opinion overwhelms partisan differences. Ninety percent of those who identify with the Tea Party movement and 87 percent of military veterans believe the fight against terrorism should continue to be a top priority, as do most Republicans (86 percent), independents (77 percent) and Democrats (72 percent).
In a bit of a role reversal, women (82 percent) are even more likely than men (72 percent) to be hawkish and say the government should keep the war against terrorism a top priority.
Yet paradoxically, a 53-percent majority of voters say they view the “war on terrorism” as a figure of speech, like the “war on drugs.” About four in 10 view it as “a real war, like World War II or Vietnam” (39 percent).
That’s a reversal from 2009 when a similar question was asked on a Fox News poll. At that time, 62 percent viewed the “war on terrorism” as a “real war,” and 33 percent said that was more of a “figure of speech.”
The new poll also finds 72 percent of voters support the U.S. using military action to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. That’s up from 63 percent last October -- and a record high level of support for using force against Iran.
The increase in support comes mainly from Democrats (up 13 percentage points from last year to 66 percent) and independents (up 12 points, to 67 percent). Support for military action among Republicans held steady at about 8 in 10.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,019 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from June 9 to June 11. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.