Poll: Americans Fear More Attacks

Through the shock of today's devastating terror attacks, four sentiments loom large in American public opinion: prayers for the victims, fears for the future, faith in U.S. efforts to find those responsible — and vast support for reprisals.

The sense of shared risk is palpable, an ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll found. Nearly nine in 10 Americans say they're worried about the possibility of more major terrorist attacks in this country. Half say they're very worried about it. And nearly half worry that they themselves or someone close to them may be victimized, a higher sense of personal risk than in previous terror attacks.

Americans divide almost evenly on whether the United States did all it could to prevent these attacks — more than four in 10 think not. Nonetheless, two-thirds express at least some confidence that the country can deter future terrorism in this country. And as many say they would sacrifice some personal liberties in support of anti-terrorism efforts.

Nine in 10 express confidence that those responsible will be found and punished; 54 percent are even "very confident" of it. And more than nine in 10 support military action against any groups or nations found to be responsible; 86 percent support military reprisals even if that means war.

Beyond those responsible for these particular attacks, more than 80 percent also support U.S. military action against countries that assist or shelter terrorists. President Bush tonight pledged "no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."

Watching, Praying

The nation gave the attacks its virtually unanimous attention. An overwhelming 99 percent of Americans say they watched or listened to broadcast news reports about the destruction, and 91 percent prayed for the victims and their families.

About half of Americans changed their day's plans or activities in some way as a result of the attacks. Four in 10 employed people stayed home from work or left work early. And 28 percent of adults — more than 50 million — called or e-mailed a friend or relative in New York or Washington to see how they were.

Happen Here?

Just over four in 10 adults say they're concerned about the possibility of a major terror attack in the community where they themselves live; a good bit fewer, 16 percent, are worried "a great deal" about that.

Worry is much higher among urban dwellers — 69 percent are worried about an attack where they live, compared to 47 percent of suburbanites, three in 10 people in towns and two in 10 in rural areas.

More broadly, 87 percent of Americans express worry — and 49 percent a "great deal" of worry — about another attack somewhere in this country. That exceeds the concern about future attacks that was measured after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Yet while concern is up, so is confidence in the United States' ability to prevent terrorism — perhaps a rally-'round-the-flag effect. Sixty-six percent say they're confident in the ability of the United States to prevent future attacks, and 35 percent are "very confident" of that.


This ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 11 among a random national sample of 608 adults. The results have a four-point error margin. Field work was done by TNS Intersearch of Horsham, Pa.

Previous ABCNEWS polls can be found in our Poll Vault.