Attack has changed the world forever, U.S. pollsters told
By MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT
With a report from Reuters News Agency
Thursday, September 13, 2001
The American psyche has been deeply rattled by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with many people believing the world has irreversibly changed and that they have witnessed the most shocking news event of their lives.
These assessments were drawn from a flurry of surveys by polling firms and news media outlets on Tuesday night, as Americans grappled with the fact that terrorists were able to blow up part of the Pentagon and destroy New York's biggest office buildings, leaving a death toll likely in the thousands.
These events have deeply shaken confidence in airport security, government antiterrorism efforts and safety at national landmarks, according to the results.
The surveys also found Americans in a mood for revenge, almost unanimous in a desire to strike back at those responsible.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll released yesterday found that 94 per cent of respondents said they would support military action in retaliation if the United States identifies the groups or nations responsible, while 3 per cent opposed it and 3 per cent had no opinion.
Asked if they would support such action even if it meant entering a war, 92 per cent said they would support it, 4 per cent were opposed and 4 per cent had no opinion.
Asked if they would be willing to surrender some civil liberties so the government can crack down on terrorism, 66 per cent said they would be willing, 24 per cent said no and 10 per cent had no opinion. This poll questioned 608 U.S. adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
Nearly nine in 10 Americans believe the attacks are an act of war, according to an CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll also released yesterday.
Asked if Tuesday's attacks marked the beginning of a sustained terrorist campaign against the United States, 55 per cent said yes, 29 per cent said no and the balance had no opinion.
The survey involved telephone interviews with 619 American adults conducted before President George W. Bush addressed the nation on Tuesday night. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus four percentage points.
Asked whether the attacks are the most tragic news event of their lifetimes, 87 per cent said yes, 12 per cent said no and 1 per cent had no opinion.
The poll concludes that Americans are much more worried about becoming victims of terrorism than they were after the Oklahoma City bombing in April of 1995.
In the current poll, 60 per cent said they were very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their families would become victims. That compares with 42 per cent who answered the same way shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing.
A third poll, this one by Ipsos-Reid, found 68 per cent of respondents saying their confidence in airport security has been shaken, with high levels of concern expressed over antiterrorism efforts and the safety of U.S. landmarks.
However, the poll, which took a representative sample of 500 adults and has a margin of error of 4.4 per cent, found that Americans remain confident in their military defence, personal safety from terrorist attacks and Mr. Bush's leadership.