Worries Up, Preparedness Down:
Security Seen Through Partisan Lens

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Tabular Results
Survey Details

While a majority of New Jersey voters think the federal government is "doing everything it can to prevent terrorist activity in New Jersey," that conclusion is colored by partisanship. According to the most recent survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind, 76% of those who rate George W. Bush's presidential performance as "excellent" think the federal government is doing its best to prevent terrorist activity. But only 41% of those who give the president a "poor" rating also think the feds are doing everything they can.

Similarly, 70% of those who say they'll vote for Bush if the election were held today say the federal government is doing its best against terror activities here in the state. But only 46% of Kerry voters agree. And while 69% of Republicans conclude the feds are doing their best, only 47% of Democrats agree.

When NJ voters are asked whether the state government is doing everything it can to prevent terrorist activity, a slim majority (52%) agree. But answers are not partisan: there is no significant difference between the responses of Republicans and Democrats, nor between liberals and conservatives.

"Perceptions of domestic security are now colored by the presidential contest," said Peter J. Woolley, Executive Director of the poll and a professor of comparative politics. "Partisanship may be natural considering this is a presidential election year and we're involved in an unusual kind of war. On the other hand, disputing the effectiveness of domestic security through partisan lenses is not likely to improve the effectiveness of any security agency," Woolley added.

The PublicMind poll also asks, on a quarterly basis, how worried people are that they may be personally touched by a terror attack. In the last three months, those "very worried" have increased to 13% from 7% while those who say they are "not at all worried" have declined to 18% from 29%. "The gruesome attacks in Madrid had a chilling effect," said Woolley. "We witnessed the images of the attacks on Spanish commuter trains. And that surprise attack was quickly followed by several other plots and attempted bombings in Spain, a democracy and an ally of the United States in Iraq."

Men's attitudes have changed more dramatically than women's. Three months ago 37% of men said they were "not at all worried." The recent poll shows only 18% of men say they are "not at all worried."

The recent increase in worry does not necessarily come with an increase in preparedness. Only 23% say they have made emergency plans, similar to the 25% who said three months ago they had done so, and down from 33% a year ago. Even 60% of those who say they are "very worried" report they have made no emergency plans.

Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll of 802 registered voters was conducted from April 3 through April 10 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Poll Analysis


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Copyright © 2004, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 040419]