Two-thirds of Americans approve of the federal government’s handling of its investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing and nearly six in 10 hold a favorable view more generally of the government’s efforts to try to prevent terrorist attacks in the United States.
Those results in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll mark unusual majority-positive ratings for government actions – difficult scores to achieve in recent years, given anti-Washington sentiment generated, in large part, by the nation’s slow crawl to better economic health.
Notably, views on the federal response to the marathon bombing, a year ago today, cross partisan lines. Approval peaks at 74 percent of Democrats, but also includes 62 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of political independents. Similarly, 63 percent of conservatives and 68 percent of liberals approve, relatively rare agreement across ideological groups.
Thirty percent of Americans, moreover, “strongly” approve of the government’s handling of the marathon bombing investigation, almost twice as many as strongly disapprove in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.
Views are somewhat less positive – and political divisions are sharper – in terms of the things the government is doing more generally to try to prevent terrorism in this country. Controversy surrounds some such efforts, including surveillance activities by the National Security Agency, the long-running U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and drone strikes on suspected terrorists.
Overall, 58 percent express a favorable opinion of federal anti-terrorism activities, ranging from 72 percent of Democrats to a sharply lower 49 percent of Republicans – a 23-point gap, compared with a partisan gap half that wide, 12 percentage points, in views of the Boston bombing investigation.
Similarly, 60 percent of liberals have a favorable view of the things the government is doing to try to prevent attacks, vs. 49 percent of conservatives – an 11-point gap, compared with a non-significant 5 points in their views of the handling of the marathon bombing investigation.
Notable, too, is that fact that positive views in both cases peak among moderates – 72 percent in this group have a favorable view of federal anti-terrorism efforts in general, and 74 percent approve of the government’s investigation of the attack in Boston.
These ratings are far less overtly partisan than views of Barack Obama’s handling of the threat of terrorism, as opposed to the federal government’s. In an ABC/Post poll in January, 50 percent of Americans approved of Obama’s handling of terrorism, with a vast 52-point partisan gap.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone April 9-13, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,015 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y.