Almost Half Think Alert System Stopped Terrorist Acts

Even though a plurality believes most people ignore the government's highly publicized terror alerts, nearly half of Americans think the risk alert system has prevented acts of terrorism.

The latest FOX News poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, finds that while almost half (48 percent) believe the terror alert system has prevented a terrorist attack from happening, about the same number (49 percent) think the terror alerts are usually ignored by most people.

In addition, half of the public thinks the federal government is issuing the terror alerts responsibly, but over a third (35 percent) think the risk level has been raised and subsequently lowered too often. The Department of Homeland Security (search) has raised the national threat level from "elevated" (yellow) to "high" (orange) four times since the color-coded program formally began in March 2002, and then lowered it after the threat level went down.

"While the system still has support," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman, "It is clear that people are growing used to it. Coupled with the fact that there is little an average citizen feels he or she can really do to respond to a warning, the usefulness of the system may soon only apply to law enforcement and other agencies that can take steps to prepare."

The threat level has not been increased for the upcoming Independence Day weekend, so it should not be a surprise that hardly any Americans (four percent) say they have changed their July 4th holiday plans because of a possible threat on that day.

My Patriotism Is Higher

Many Americans think they are personally more patriotic than their fellow citizens. A 61 percent majority thinks they are more patriotic than the average American, with almost a third (32 percent) saying they are "a lot more" patriotic. About one quarter (28 percent) think they are equally as patriotic as their friends and neighbors, while only seven percent feel less patriotic. These results are almost identical to those seen in previous years.

Groups most likely to think they are more patriotic than other folks include older Americans (65 percent), men (65 percent) and Republicans (72 percent).

The rally effect from 9/11 and the war with Iraq has likely led the public to see increased national patriotism. When asked about patriotism today compared to 25 years ago, over half (55 percent) say average Americans are more patriotic today than in the past — up from only 16 percent who thought so in 1999.

Polling was conducted by telephone June 30-July 1, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.

1. Do you think the federal government is issuing terror alerts responsibly or has the alert level been raised and lowered too often?

2. Do you believe that the terror-alert system has prevented any acts of terrorism from happening?

3. Do you think most people take these terror alerts seriously or do they ignore them?
SCALE: 1. People take alerts seriously 2. People ignore them 3. (Not sure)

* ". . . people continue to take these alerts seriously . . ."

4. Have you changed your July 4th plans in any way because of the threat of a terrorist attack on that day?

5. Would you describe yourself as more or less patriotic than the average American? (Is that a lot or a little?)
SCALE: 1. A lot more patriotic 2. A little more patriotic 3. A little less patriotic 4. A lot less patriotic 5. (Same) 6. (Not sure)

6. Do you think average Americans are more or less patriotic than they were 25 years ago?
SCALE: 1. More 2. Less 3. (Same) 4. (Not sure)