Poll: Low Confidence in Leaders Dealing With Terrorism

WASHINGTON (CQ-Roll Call/TNS) -
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, and Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin, center, listen as President Barack Obama speaks at the Pentagon, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015,  on the fight against the Islamic State group following a National Security Council meeting. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, (L), and Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin, (C), listen as President Barack Obama speaks at the Pentagon, Dec. 14, on the fight against the Islamic State terror group following a National Security Council meeting. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A new poll shows more Americans are concerned about terrorism than the economy for the first time since the Great Recession, and they don’t have much confidence in how President Barack Obama is handling it, or those running to replace him would.

An Economist/YouGov poll shows that 18% of Americans say terrorism is their most important issue while 15% say the economy is.

The poll showed that 33% of respondents thought the U.S. is much less safe from terrorist attacks now than it was a year ago and 25% thought the U.S. is somewhat less safe now. It also showed that 52% of those thought the safety of their community was about the same.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has amped up his rhetoric on terrorism since the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, calling for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., and his poll numbers have risen among GOP voters. But 53% of those responding to the YouGov/Economist poll felt uneasy about Trump’s abilities to deal wisely with terrorism. That’s second to Ben Carson, who at 55% has fallen in polls as concerns about terror have risen.

The candidate who scored best was Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, with 40% of those polled saying they were confident about her ability to deal wisely with terrorism. But 46% said they would feel uneasy with the former secretary of state’s ability to deal with terrorism, higher than Republican Sens. Ted Cruz at 41%, and Marco Rubio at 40%, who have risen in Republican polling in recent weeks.

“That says something about the overall concern,” said Kathy Frankovic, a consultant for YouGov. “None have been able to seize the issue and make their position supported by the majority of the public.”

There is less confidence in how Obama has dealt with terrorism, with only 34% approving.

Frankovic said the percentage of those who said terrorism was their biggest concern, for the first time topped the economy as a concern since the poll started asking the question in 2009.

“It’s jumped up since Paris and San Bernardino,” she said.