FOX News Poll: Half Feel Safer Than Before Sept. 11

Almost all Americans think there are members of the Al Qaeda terrorist group living in the United States today, and many think terrorists are their neighbors. Even so, nearly half feel safer today than before Sept. 11, but few say they have made any sort of emergency plans if an attack were to happen, according to a recent FOX News poll.

Overall, the number of people who have made an emergency plan is up slightly, though most Americans still are unprepared for an attack. Today, 25 percent say they have made plans, up from 17 percent five years ago (8-9 September 2002).

Click here to view full results of the poll (pdf).

In addition, the poll shows that Americans are just about as likely to think terrorists live in their hometown (48 percent), as think they don’t (47 percent). One in five (20 percent) think it is "very likely" terrorists are in their city.

These latest results are essentially unchanged from opinions held in September 2003, though the portion of Americans thinking it is at least somewhat likely that terrorists are living in their area is down 10 percentage points from 2002, when 58 percent thought so (18-19 June 2002).

Westerners (57 percent) are the most convinced that terrorists are living in their midst — much more so than those living in the Midwest (41 percent) and somewhat more than those in the Northeast (46 percent) and the South (51 percent).

Believing terrorists live in their area seems to have led Westerners to be among the most prepared for an attack. Some 38 percent of those living in the West have made emergency plans in case of a terrorist strike, compared to just 18 percent of those living in the Midwest, 19 percent of Northeasterners and 24 percent of Southerners.

Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from Aug. 21 to Aug. 22. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

The poll finds that 48 percent of Americans think the United States is safer today than before Sept. 11, while 33 percent think the country is less safe. Today’s results are almost identical to findings from this time last year, though somewhat less positive than in early 2004, when 58 percent said the country was safer (3-4 March 2004).

Republicans are three times as likely to say the country is safer today (66 percent) than less safe (21 percent), while a 42 percent of Democrats say they think the country is less safe and 36 percent say it’s safer.

Thinking about it from a different perspective, by more than 2-to-1, Americans are more concerned about having enough money in retirement savings (64 percent) than about surviving a terrorist attack (24 percent).

Half of Americans (50 percent) say they approve of the job the government is doing to protect the country from terrorism, down from 55 percent a year ago and a high of 71 percent approval in early 2003.

As is the case on almost all questions relating to the government’s job performance and terrorism, there is a large partisan split here: 69 percent of Republicans say they approve, which is fully 29 percentage points higher than the 40 percent of Democrats that approve.

A majority of Americans (56 percent) thinks history will judge President Bush negatively for the job he has done pursuing terrorists after Sept. 11, even though a 62 percent majority gives him "a lot" or "some" credit for preventing additional attacks since that time.