Terrorism Fears Still High 3 Years After 9/11

Survey Shows Americans Divided on Impact of 9/11

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Sept. 10, 2004 -- Three years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Americans are nearly equally divided on whether they believe the country has fundamentally changed, but fear of terrorism remains high, according to a new survey.

The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows public fear of terrorism has fluctuated a great deal in the last three years, but it has never reverted to pre-9/11 levels. In fact, the percentage of Americans who said they were very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their family will become a victim of terrorism rose 9% in the last month alone, from 34% in mid-August to 43% on Sept. 3-5.

In contrast, just 24% of Americans said they were very or somewhat worried about becoming a victim of terrorism in an April 2000 survey.

The survey shows fear of terrorism peaked at 59% in October 2001 and has since ranged from 28% to 49%. Researchers attribute the recent spike to concerns over security at the Republican National Convention in late August and the terrorist hostage crisis in Russia.

Americans Divided on Post-9/11 America

Although worries over terrorism remain high, researchers found less than a quarter of Americans say they have permanently changed the way they live.

Americans were split on whether they believed their fellow Americans had changed as a result of the 9/11 attacks, with 52% saying they thought Americans had changed the way they live and 46% saying they had not.

Americans were also divided in their opinion of the war on terror.

When asked how satisfied they are with the way the war on terrorism is going, only 16% said they were very satisfied, 43% said they were somewhat satisfied, and 40% said they were not too or not at all satisfied.

Satisfaction with the war on terrorism was closely tied to peoples' political affiliation. The majority of Republicans (87%) said they were satisfied with the way things are going in the war against terrorism compared with only 33% of Democrats and 55% of independents.

Despite these differences, 49% of Americans believe the upcoming presidential election outcome will have no effect on the likelihood of future terrorist attacks against the U.S.


The number of Americans who believe it's likely that the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, will be captured has also declined since the months immediately following the attacks. More than three-fourths of Americans polled in November 2001 said they believed it was likely bin Laden would be captured, compared with two-thirds who said the same in September 2004.

The survey was based on telephone interviews with a random national sample of 1,018 adults and conducted Sept. 3-5, 2004.

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SOURCES: CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, conducted Sept. 3-5, 2004. News release, Gallup news service.
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