Americans' satisfaction with the nation's security from terrorism has significantly eroded for the second year in a row, with a majority now saying they are dissatisfied, according to a new Gallup poll. More than two-thirds, 69%, said in 2014 that they were satisfied with the nation's security from terrorism, but that figure dropped to 59% a year ago and now has fallen to 43%.
In recent years, security from terrorism has been one of the issues with which Americans have expressed the greatest satisfaction, the poll said. From 2012 to 2015, it ranked in the top two of 16 dimensions concerning the state of the nation measured annually in Gallup's Mood of the Nation poll. With the slide this year to 43%, it now has a lower percentage satisfied than four other dimensions: acceptance of gays and lesbians (60%), military strength and preparedness (59%), quality of medical care (53%), and quality of the environment (53%).
The prior low point in satisfaction with security from terrorism was 51%, measured in January 2002, four months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Satisfaction remained at the majority level through 2008. Gallup did not ask the question from 2009 through 2011. After the U.S. military killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011, asking this question resumed in January 2012, and in that year, it reached a high point in the overall trend at 72%.
Declines in satisfaction over the last two years dovetail with the rise of the terrorism-sponsoring Islamic State group, or ISIS, the poll results said. Terrorist attacks linked to ISIS late last year in Paris and San Bernardino, California, weakened Americans' trust in the government's ability to protect its citizens and pushed "terrorism" to the forefront of the nation's most important problems.
Although satisfaction has dropped over the past two years among every major demographic group, attitudes about terrorism show a strong political split, with only a quarter of Republicans (24%) and conservatives (24%) satisfied, compared with a majority of liberals (56%) and Democrats (51%). The partisan divide has grown significantly wider in the past two years: 66% of Republicans were satisfied in 2014, only 10 percentage points less than Democrats at the time (76%) and a higher percentage than the percentage of Democrats now.
Major splits also occur by region and age. Midwesterners (36%) and those aged 55 and older (35%) are among the least satisfied. Westerners (52%) and adults younger than 35 (53%) are the most satisfied.
Satisfaction with the nation's military strength and preparedness -- another key measure of Americans' confidence in their national security -- has also fallen, from 69% last January to 59% now. Even with the drop, it still ranks second among the dimensions of the state of the nation that Americans are most satisfied with, the poll said.
Among Republicans, 38% say they are satisfied, compared with 64% of independents and 72% of Democrats.