Most Americans are following news about the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 -- and the consensus is that an international terrorist plot is not to blame.
That’s according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday.
Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared March 8 after leaving Kuala Lumpur. Investigators have concluded deliberate action was taken to disable tracking on the plane and divert it from its course. On Monday Malaysia’s Prime Minister announced that an analysis of satellite data determined the aircraft was lost in the southern Indian Ocean and there were no survivors. Authorities, however, still cannot say what happened aboard the plane.
The new poll finds that 16 percent think flight 370 was the victim of a terrorist plot, while 20 percent think it crashed by accident. However the largest number -- 40 percent of voters -- thinks the airliner was hijacked by someone for reasons other than terrorism. Nearly one in four is unable to offer an opinion (24 percent).
Fully 80 percent of voters say they are following the news story of the missing jet, including 38 percent who are watching it “very” closely. By comparison, 69 percent are following news about the situation in Ukraine (29 percent say “very” closely).
In the days since the plane disappeared it has received significant news coverage. More than half of voters -- 57 percent -- think the amount of coverage is “about right.” That’s about twice as many as say there’s been “too much” coverage (29 percent). Eleven percent think there’s been “too little” news about the missing flight.
By more than two-to-one (67-30 percent), voters are surprised it is taking so long to find the missing airliner given the high-tech ways spy agencies have to collect information and track events. That includes nearly half who say they are “very” surprised (46 percent).
Despite reports that passengers were able to board flight 370 with stolen passports among other broken safety measures, a 59-percent majority thinks air travel is safer today than it was before 9/11. That’s up from 55 percent in 2010.
Men (67 percent) are more likely than women (52 percent) to consider air travel safer today than before 9/11. In fact, women (29 percent) are nearly twice as likely as men (16 percent) to think it is less safe.
Meanwhile, pluralities of men and women think flight 370 was hijacked, yet the second most cited reason among women is terrorism, while the second choice among men is accident.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,015 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from March 23 to March 25, 2014. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for the total sample.