Five Years Later, 9/11 Still Resonates; Eight in 10 Say Their Outlook’s Changed

Five years later the shock of 9/11 still echoes across the American landscape. Seven in 10 Americans continue to think about the attack regularly. Nearly eight in 10 say it changed their personal outlook in a lasting way -- for most of them, in a greater sense of insecurity and risk. And ratings of the government's response to terrorism have weakened.

Just 38 percent in this ABC News poll now say the government is doing all it can to prevent further terrorist attacks in this country, a new low -- virtually half what it was in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. And barely over half -- 52 percent, another low -- say the war on terrorism is going well. That peaked at 88 percent the winter after 9/11.

Sept. 11 Anniversary Poll

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Fewer than half now say the government has done a good job breaking up the al-Qaeda terrorist network, down 15 points. Many have soured on the reorganization of federal agencies to better fight terrorism. And in the Bush administration's lowest score, just 38 percent say it's done a good job winning international cooperation against terrorism, another low.

Nonetheless, 55 percent say the country is safer now than it was before 9/11 -- down from a high of 67 percent, but still a majority, and still George W. Bush's cornerstone issue. People who say the country is safer are 40 points more apt to approve of Bush's job performance overall -- crucial support as his popularity has ebbed under the weight of the Iraq war.

Three-quarters of Americans are worried that there will be more major terrorist attacks in this country, a level that's held fairly steady since October 2001. Just under half, 46 percent, are confident in the government's ability to prevent such an attack -- roughly average since mid-2002, but 20 points lower than immediately after 9/11.

PERSONAL IMPACT -- On a personal level, about a third of Americans worry that they themselves might be a victim of terrorism, steady the last five years. (That concern peaks among married women with children -- so called "security moms.") Three in 10 adults -- a minority, but still a vast number of individuals -- sometimes feel nervous or apprehensive about another attack when they're in a public place. Four in 10 worry about the risk of air travel (down from six in 10 just after 9/11).

Almost everyone -- 95 percent -- remembers where they were when 9/11 occurred. And about half of Americans, unprompted, call it the single most important world event of their lives. That rises to a majority, 55 percent, of adults under age 50.

Notably more women report an impact: Compared with men, women are 19 points more likely to worry about being a victim of terrorism, 11 points more apt to think often about 9/11 and to say it's changed their personal outlook in a lasting way, 13 points more apt to feel apprehensive about terrorism when they're in public places, and 20 points more apt to worry about air travel. They're also 11 points less likely to say the country is safer now than it was before 9/11.

To some extent, naturally, the grip of 9/11 on the public's consciousness has eased. Seventy-one percent still think about it often, quite similar to what it was in 2002 and 2003. But the number who think about the attacks "pretty much every day" has declined from 40 percent in 2002 to 23 percent now.

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