Public opinion surveys conducted since the bombings last week at the Boston Marathon indicate that most Americans — while convinced future attacks are quite likely — don’t feel personally threatened by terrorism, and an increasing share of the public is skeptical about sacrificing personal freedoms for security, reports FiveThirtyEight.com
“Concern about another terrorist episode in the United States has increased after the events in Boston, which led to the deaths of four people and wounded more than 260. But there has not been the upsurge in concern over such an attack that there was in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City. The post-Boston polls have also shown that Americans’ personal sense of threat — as opposed to the generalized threat that the country faces — remains low.
“Just after the 9/11 attacks, a Washington Post poll found that the threat of another major terror attack was something that worried nearly 9 in 10 Americans either “a great deal” or “somewhat.”
“In the most recent Washington Post survey, roughly 7 in 10 respondents were worried either a great deal or somewhat. That figure increased just slightly from the last time the newspaper asked this question, in September 2008.
“A Pew Research survey released Tuesday reinforced those results. It found that while 75 percent of Americans expect acts of terrorism to be a part of life in the future (up by 11 percent from a year ago), worry about terrorism has not increased. The Boston bombings have also not added to Americans’ personal sense of threat, according to the recent polls. The Washington Post poll found that only 40 percent of respondents were concerned about an attack in their community, while a Fox News poll released last Wednesday showed 34 percent of respondents were worried about a terrorist attack where they live or work. That’s unchanged since Fox last asked that question, in May 2006.In addition, the post-Boston polling did not find an increased willingness to give up personal freedoms in the fight against terrorism. That contrasts with the period after the Sept. 11 attacks, when Americans told pollsters they were much more willing to trade some civil liberties for safety. A Fox News poll in October 2001 found that nearly 3 in 4 respondents would give up some personal freedom. A majority of respondents in 2006 still said they would give up freedoms.”