Poll: Majority Says Terrorists Could Be Living Next Door

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Over half of Americans think it is likely that terrorists are living in their city, according to the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll.

The national poll of registered voters shows that 27 percent think it is "very likely" and 31 percent "somewhat likely" that terrorists are living in their hometown. Respondents in the Northeast, where terrorist attacks have occurred, were the least likely (21 percent) to think their neighbors could be terrorists. Only 14 percent of the full national sample think it is "not at all likely" there are terrorists living in their vicinity.

"These results indicate that the fear of terrorism may have penetrated the American psyche to a level we haven’t seen before-real concern for a perceived ‘enemy in our midst,’" said Ernest Paicopolos, a principal of Opinion Dynamics.

A slight majority (55 percent) thinks the government is doing everything it can to prevent terrorist activity (37 percent disagree). As part of the government's plan to address the issue of terrorism, earlier this week President Bush sent a proposal to Congress to create a new Department of Homeland Security. Half of Americans (51 percent) think this new department will help make the country safer, while one-third (33 percent) think it will make no difference to the safety of Americans.

The recent finger pointing over what could have been done to prevent the September attacks seems to have hurt the public's confidence in everyone from the military to the president. Fewer people today say they have a "great deal" of confidence in the military than two months ago (71 percent today compared to 77 percent in early April). Even with the criticism the FBI has been taking, twice as many people have a "great deal" of confidence in the agency (24 percent) as in the IRS (12 percent).

The president's overall job approval rating is holding (73 percent approve), and the number having either a "great deal" or "some" confidence in him also remains the same (86 percent); however, those having a "great deal" of confidence has dipped from 59 percent in April to 50 percent today.

Nine months after the attacks and three months after the recession was declared over, the public clearly puts the importance of national security ahead of the nation's economy (52 percent security to 19 percent economy), with just over one quarter (28 percent) saying the two issues are of equal importance.

When asked about several ways to help prevent future terrorist attacks, a majority of the public (62 percent) endorses requiring citizens to carry national identification cards and a similar number (65 percent) believe requiring the cards would be helpful to law enforcement officials.

If a U.S. citizen is suspected of helping terrorists, as is the case with Jose Padilla, 69 percent of the public is willing to allowing the government to hold that suspect indefinitely (23 percent disapprove). Finally, in a question that shows how strongly Americans feel about stopping terrorism, 62 percent favor imposing the death penalty if a U.S. citizen is found guilty of helping terrorists (24 oppose).

Polling was conducted by telephone June 18-19, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?

Click here for the complete trend.

2. - 9. I'm going to read you a list of people and institutions. Please tell me how much confidence you have in each. How much confidence do you have in (Rotate):
SCALE: 1. A great deal 2. Some 3. Not much 4. None at all 5. (Not sure)

The military

The president



The Internal Revenue Service

The Catholic Church

The news media

Major business corporations

10. In your everyday conversations with friends and neighbors, what topic would you say comes up most often these days? (OPEN ENDED)

11. Which do you think is more important — national security or the nation's economy?

12. Do you think requiring U.S. citizens to carry national identification cards is a good idea or a bad idea?

13. How helpful do you think it would be to law enforcement officials in catching terrorists, if U.S. citizens were required to carry national identification cards?

14. How dependent do you think the United States is on oil from Arab states?

15. Have you purchased an American flag in the last 10 months, that is, since September 11, 2001?

16. Right after September 11, many people noted increased feeling of patriotism and neighborliness. Since then do you think those feelings have faded:

17. Do you think the federal government is doing everything it can to prevent terrorist activity in the U.S.?

18. Do you think the newly proposed Department of Homeland Security will make the country safer, less safe, or make no difference to the safety of Americans?

19. Do you approve or disapprove of the government being allowed to hold indefinitely U.S. citizens suspected of helping terrorists?

20. If a U.S. citizen were found guilty of helping terrorists act against the United States, would you favor or oppose imposing the death penalty?

21. How likely do you think it is that there are terrorists living in your city or hometown?

22. Do you believe there are Muslim extremists inside U.S. prisons trying to recruit Americans to be terrorists?

23. Overall, do you think Americans are more likely to feel sympathy for Muslims or are Americans more likely to be fearful of Muslims?