InteractivesDecember 3, 2013

Video: Americans Grow More Pessimistic about U.S. Role in World Affairs

Highlights from the report: Public Sees U.S. Power Declining as Support for Global Engagement Slips. For the first time in nearly a half century of polling – a majority agrees that the United States should mind its own business internationally.

Multi-section ReportsDecember 3, 2013

Public Sees U.S. Power Declining as Support for Global Engagement Slips

Growing numbers of Americans believe that U.S. global power and prestige are in decline. And support for U.S. global engagement, already near a historic low, has fallen further. The public thinks that the nation does too much to solve world problems, and increasing percentages want the U.S. to “mind its own business internationally” and […]

PublicationsJuly 26, 2013

Few See Adequate Limits on NSA Surveillance Program

A majority of Americans – 56% – say that federal courts fail to provide adequate limits on the telephone and internet data the government is collecting as part of its anti-terrorism efforts. An even larger percentage (70%) believes that the government uses this data for purposes other than investigating terrorism. And despite the insistence […]

Featured ReportJune 10, 2013

Majority Views NSA Phone Tracking as Acceptable Anti-terror Tactic

A majority of Americans – 56% – say the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program tracking the telephone records of millions of Americans is an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism, though a substantial minority – 41% – say it is unacceptable. And while the public is more evenly divided over the government’s […]

Featured ReportMay 13, 2013

Benghazi Investigation Does Not Reignite Broad Public Interest

The public paid limited attention to last week’s congressional hearings on Benghazi. Fewer than half (44%) of Americans say they are following the hearings very or fairly closely, virtually unchanged from late January when Hillary Clinton testified. Last October, 61% said they were following the early stages of the investigation at least fairly closely. […]

Featured ReportApril 23, 2013

Most Expect ’Occasional Acts of Terrorism’ in the Future

Last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon attracted broad public interest: 63% of Americans say they followed the story very closely, among the highest interest in any news story in the past decade. And the bombings drew far more public attention than any terrorist event since Sept. 11, 2001, which 78% reported following very […]

Featured ReportSeptember 17, 2012

Middle East Turmoil Closely Followed; Romney’s Comments Viewed Negatively

About four-in-ten Americans (43%) have followed news about the attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East and the killing of an American ambassador very closely, making it by far the most closely followed foreign news story of the year. Those who have followed this story have much more positive opinions about Barack Obama’s […]

Multi-section ReportsJune 4, 2012

Partisan Polarization Surges in Bush, Obama Years

As Americans head to the polls this November, their values and basic beliefs are more polarized along partisan lines than at any point in the past 25 years. Unlike in 1987, when this series of surveys began, the values gap between Republicans and Democrats is now greater than gender, age, race or class divides. […]

Multi-section ReportsJanuary 23, 2012

Public Priorities: Deficit Rising, Terrorism Slipping

As the 2012 State of the Union approaches, the public continues to give the highest priority to economic issues. Fully 86% say that strengthening the economy should be a top priority for the president and Congress this year, and 82% rate improving the job situation as a top priority. None of the other 20 […]

PublicationsSeptember 1, 2011

United in Remembrance, Divided over Policies

Ten years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the events of that day retain a powerful hold on the public’s collective consciousness. Virtually every American remembers what they were doing at the moment the attacks occurred. Substantial majorities say that 9/11 had a profound personal impact and that the attacks changed the […]

PublicationsMay 9, 2011

Obama Bump Recedes a Bit

Barack Obama’s job approval rating has fallen slightly since the day after Osama bin Laden’s death was announced. But the balance of opinion regarding Obama’s job performance remains more positive than it was in early April. There also continues to be more optimism about the U.S. achieving its goals in Afghanistan than there was […]

Pew Research/Washington Post SurveysMay 3, 2011

Public “Relieved” By bin Laden’s Death, Obama’s Job Approval Rises

The public is reacting to the killing of Osama bin Laden with relief, happiness and pride. And Americans overwhelmingly credit the U.S. military and the CIA for the success of the operation. An overnight survey of 654 adults, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post […]

PublicationsDecember 2, 2010

Despite Years of Terror Scares, Public’s Concerns Remain Fairly Steady

Since 9/11, there have been major terrorist attacks in Great Britain, Spain and other countries. And in the United States, there have been Orange Alerts and numerous near misses involving bombs smuggled aboard aircraft and in parked cars. But over the course of all of this, there is little evidence that close calls in […]

PublicationsOctober 22, 2010

Continued Positive Marks for Government Anti-Terror Efforts

The federal government continues to get positive marks for efforts to reduce the threat of terrorism, but many Americans say luck is a big reason why the United States has not suffered a major attack at home since Sept. 11, 2001. About seven-in-ten (69%) say the government is doing very (15%) or fairly well […]

PublicationsJanuary 25, 2010

Public’s Priorities for 2010: Economy, Jobs, Terrorism

Summary of Findings As Barack Obama begins his second year in office, the public’s priorities for the president and Congress remain much as they were one year ago. Strengthening the nation’s economy and improving the job situation continue to top the list. And, in the wake of the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack on a […]

Multi-section ReportsJanuary 14, 2010

Obama Image Unscathed By Terrorism Controversy

Summary of Findings In the aftermath of the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, the government’s ratings for reducing the threat of terrorism have slipped. In addition, 33% now say that the ability of terrorists to launch a major attack on the U.S. is greater than it was at the time of […]

Multi-section ReportsDecember 3, 2009

U.S. Seen as Less Important, China as More Powerful

The general public and members of the Council on Foreign Relations are apprehensive and uncertain about America’s place in the world. Growing numbers in both groups see the United States playing a less important role globally, while acknowledging the increasing stature of China. And the general public, which is in a decidedly inward-looking frame […]

PublicationsNovember 18, 2009

Modest Rise in Concern About Islamic Extremism

The public continues to express concern about the rise of Islamic extremism in the United States and abroad, but a survey taken shortly after the deadly Nov. 5 shootings at the Fort Hood Army base shows only a modest increase in these concerns since 2007. Just more than half (52%) of Americans say they […]

CommentaryAugust 7, 2009

Public Supports Targeting Al Qaeda Leaders, Wants Congress in the Loop

PublicationsApril 23, 2009

Public Remains Divided Over Use of Torture

Amid intense debate over the use of torture against suspected terrorists, public opinion about this issue remains fairly stable. Currently, nearly half say the use of torture under such circumstances is often (15%) or sometimes (34%) justified; about the same proportion believes that the torture of suspected terrorists is rarely (22%) or never (25%) […]