-- The events of September 11, 2001 are seared into the collective memory of Americans; nearly all those polled (98%) remember the moment they first learned of the attacks. Overall, seven in ten (70%) say this is one of their most vivid memories. People in the Northeastern U.S. (78% most vivid memory) are the most likely to say that.
Attacks Provoked Anger, Not Insecurity, Among Americans
Although responses are likely tempered by the passage of time, most (80%) Americans report that they felt deeply "angry" when they heard about the attacks. Other concerns are less deeply felt; half say it "never occurred" to them to feel ashamed or that the U.S. brought the attacks on itself. Seven in ten Americans either feel deeply (39%) or say it crossed their mind (30%) that the U.S. could have prevented the 9/11 attacks.
To some extent, perspectives on the attacks vary by individuals' age. People in their thirties most often report concern about the impact of 9/11 on their own life, job and future (51%). Those under 30 are more apt to say they felt the attacks could have been prevented (51%), while seniors over 65 tend to say they deeply "felt ashamed that something like this could happen in our country" (46%).
There also appears to be some variation in response by race. Relatively more whites (82%) than non-whites (72%) say they deeply felt angry. Non-whites more often report deep feelings of shock and disbelief, including feeling unsafe (50% vs. 35% of whites), shame that it happened (48%, vs. 33% of whites) and a feeling that it could have been prevented (52%, vs. 36% of whites).
Regionally, residents of the Northeast are more likely than others to say they felt worry about the impact of 9/11 on their future life and job (45%; vs. 32% in the West), a view consistent with the generally greater feelings of vulnerability to another attack felt by Northeasterners.
Certainly, most Americans say the terrorists themselves are directly responsible (92% a lot of the blame), but majorities also place at least some blame on government agencies (70% CIA, 64% FBI) as well as airline security (69%). However, U.S. agencies and airlines tend to receive "some" rather than "a lot" of the blame. The public is divided on the culpability of Congress, as well as that of both former President Bill Clinton and current President George W. Bush.
However, the finger pointing over 9/11 is influenced by party loyalties. Among registered voters, 61% of Republicans (and 43% of Democrats) place at least some of the blame on President Clinton. Three-quarters (78%) of Democrats, but only 26% of Republicans, say President Bush carries at least some blame. Undecided and persuadable voters blame Clinton and Bush equally.
Six In Ten Not Concerned About Being Victim Of Terrorism
By and large, a majority (62%) of Americans are not very concerned that they will be affected by a terrorist attack. Of the four in ten who are concerned about an attack,
relatively few (10%) say this concern has "a great deal" of effect on how they live. Most others, while concerned, are more diffident.
As A Threat, Terrorism On A Par With Burglary, Unemployment
Similarly, four in ten (41%) worry at least occasionally about becoming a victim of terrorism; six in ten (58%) rarely or never worry. Fear of terrorism is approximately on par with losing a job or other having one's home burglarized. Contracting cancer, being unable to pay the bills, and getting hurt in a car accident evoke more worry, but still no more than 55% worry more than occasionally about these kinds of events.
The Associated Press Poll is conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs. Between August 27-29, 2004, the AP-Ipsos poll interviewed a representative sample of 1,000 adults nationwide. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 for all adults. Margin of error for subgroups may be higher.
To view the complete filled-in questionnaire for this survey, please click on the Topline Results pdf at the top of this page.
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Director, Ipsos Public Affairs
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