One Year After Bin Laden Killing, Americans Continue To Believe U.S. Safer Than It Was In 2001

May 03, 2012, 12:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 4/28/2012) The killing of Osama Bin Laden one year ago was a major cause for celebration and a high mark in the government’s now decade-long fight against terrorism. In the wake of news about Bin Laden’s death, a special Economist/YouGov poll was conducted at this time last year to gauge Americans’ attitudes about how successful the war on terror has been. In this week’s poll, several questions from that poll were repeated to see if attitudes about the terrorist threat and the U.S. government’s response to it have changed since that high point.

This week’s results show that public opinion about the safety of the U.S. from terrorist attacks and the effectiveness of the war on terror has been rather stable. Around half of Americans continue to believe that the United States is safer than it was in 2001, though the percentage who say it is much safer has gone up a few points. Like last year, around 30% of Americans say that the U.S. is about as safe from the terrorist threat as it was in 2001, while the percentage of Americans who say the U.S. is less safe remains at only around 10%.

Americans also remain evenly split on which factor they attribute to the lack of a major terrorist attack on American soil since 2001. Like last year, Americans are just about evenly split between crediting the actions of the U.S. government and pointing to sheer luck as the reason behind the absence of a major terrorist action. The percentage of respondents who gave both of these answers went up slightly, while responses for a third choice – attributing the lack of an attack to the idea that "the U.S. is a difficult target" for terrorist – went down.